Fenwick families hosted 10 students from Buenos Aires this month.
Ten students from Colegio Champagnat in Buenos Aires, Argentina visited Fenwick High School this month as part of an exchange program developed by Spanish teacher Crissy Lilek ‘05. Argentine visitors spent more than a week shadowing 11 Fenwick junior and senior hosts, staying with their families and immersing themselves in American life and culture.
In addition to attending Fenwick classes and participating in extracurricular activities, the group explored Chicagoland over the course of their stay. They made visits to the Willis Tower and Six Flags Great America, counting Navy Pier and the United Center among their favorite attractions and bagels, cinnamon rolls and deep dish pizza as the best cuisine.
Colegio Champagnat students have been studying the English language since second grade. In presentations before Fenwick Spanish classes, they gave background on their neighborhood in the city of Buenos Aires, along with information on Argentine geography and history. Students learned about the similarities in their government and pastimes, noting differences in climate and school schedules.
Fenwick hosts were eager to hear about their visitors’ 12-hour journey to the U.S and how they feel about famed Argentine footballer Lionel Messi playing for Major League Soccer in the states. (They’re OK with it.) Classes also sampled a traditional Argentine mate drink, prepared by their guests in the classroom of Marianne Carrozza ‘96.
Lilek almost instantly saw the exchange experience as formative for her Spanish students. “This opened their eyes to a different culture and the power of world language…it showed them what language can do,” Lilek said. “I hope it inspires them to want to travel and continue to learn more.”
The bonds formed between hosts and guests was “heartwarming” to witness, Lilek said: “The relationships they’ve formed are so sweet…they’re genuinely best friends.”
Fenwick students are planning a spring break exchange trip to Argentina in March to reunite with their visitantes.
Matthew Brown ’24 provided the Student Reflection at Mass on Wednesday, November 1, 2023.
Good morning everyone. My name is Matthew Brown from the Class of 2024 and I would like to welcome you to today’s Mass.
Today is the Solemnity of All Saints Day. All Saints Day originated in the year 609 A.D. during May, when Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Later, Pope Gregory III changed the date to November 1 and shortly thereafter Pope Gregory the fourth extended this celebration to the universal church. Catholics view saints as anyone who makes it to Heaven. Today we celebrate all saints, whether they were formally canonized Saints (with a capital “S”) within the Church, or simply those who made it to Heaven.
In Theology class this year when learning about the world’s different religions, we discuss who the exemplars are for the various faiths we study. Exemplars are people who serve as role models. For Catholics, saints are our exemplars. Saints lead by example and show us how we should devote our lives to God. Yet, we also oftentimes have exemplars who aren’t saints that still lead by example and show us how we can worship God.
I am a devout Catholic, but even devout Catholics struggle with their faith in many different ways. Whether it is struggling with praying, attending Mass, or believing in God, each and every person has struggled with their faith at least once. I am no different. High school has not been easy for me, and I think it’s safe to say that each of us has felt that way at some point or another. Personally, I had a very tough sophomore year, oftentimes feeling very alone, and as a result my relationship with God struggled. I didn’t understand why these bad things were happening to me and it felt like God was punishing me for reasons I didn’t understand. But throughout this entire time, my older brothers kept showing me how to remain faithful and grow in my relationship with God. We’d go to church together, pray together, and talk about our faith together. They encouraged me to pray and to ask for the saints to intercede for me and help me with the struggles I was going through. My brothers were the perfect exemplars that I needed to remind me that God is always with us and that He deeply loves and cares for us.
As my brothers were exemplars for me, there are people in your life that are exemplars for you, people who hope to help you grow in your faith. I encourage all of you to consider who your exemplar is. It could be one of your siblings, parents, grandparents, or even your friends.
And if you truly believe that you do not have an exemplar, someone who will show you the way, then the saints are perfect for you. I can guarantee that each and every one of you will relate to at least one saint in some way shape or form. There are an estimated 11,000 saints, so there are plenty to choose from when considering who your exemplar will be. As we enter into this Mass, I encourage you to ask God for the strength to go out and set a good example; to be an exemplar. We are called to imitate the lives of saints and lead by example with our worship of God. Now I leave you with one parting question that I’d like you to think about. How can you go out and be an exemplar for those around you?
Anna Androsyuk ’24 provided the Student Reflection at Mass on Friday, October 20, 2023.
Good morning everyone. My name is Anna Androsyuk from the class of 2024 and I want to welcome you to today’s mass.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul discusses Abraham, the founding father of the first covenant between God and His people. Paul explains that according to Scripture, Abraham’s belief was the reason he was credited as righteous, not because of his work. Despite the fact that Abraham had done countless good deeds and had a profound impact, he was chosen by God solely because of his steadfast faith.
There are many ways to attain the spiritual gift God offers us. At times you may doubt yourself and wonder: am I doing this right? Do I really live as Jesus taught? But all God asks is for you to put your faith into Him.
There are multiple ways we, as students, can exhibit our steadfast faith. Following the four Dominican pillars is a path that will lead you to righteousness, but more importantly also grows and solidifies your relationship with God. Through prayer, community, study, and preaching we can learn how God wants us to live out our lives. However, these pillars cannot simply produce righteousness. Our actions are fruitless if not fueled by faith — belief in God and His promise. These pillars help us to embody our faith and connect it through our heart, mind, and soul — only then can God give us this spiritual gift.
My faith has not always been steadfast. I, too, have had low moments when I didn’t feel the presence of God. In middle school, I didn’t understand the importance of having a relationship with God. Just like most of my peers, I was preoccupied with other things like when I would spend time with my friends, what grade I got on a test, or what my plans were the following weekend. But regardless of whether I was focused on God, He was there even when I was too blind to see it. Especially when you feel an absence of God, Jesus reminds us, “Do not be afraid.” Looking back now, I realize that He was there to guide me every step of the way. Even when we stray from God and good deeds, God still wants us to return to him. We don’t need to be afraid of God if we have made mistakes. God was there through all my triumphs and my failures. He was there then just as He is now. He was there for me and He is there for each of you. God offers salvation as a gift to each and every one of us. He is forgiving, sins can be cured, and there is always a path to God.
Catherine Quinn ’25 provided the Student Reflection at the Votive Mass for the Most Holy Rosary on Friday, October 13, 2023.
Good morning. My name is Catherine Quinn of the Class of 2025.
When I was younger, my extended family and I spent our summers at my aunt and uncle’s house in Michigan. I created some of my fondest memories there, from being dunked in the water by my older cousins to staying up past my bedtime to enjoy s’mores. The lake was where I first learned to shuffle cards, where I first heard stories about my grandparents, where I first began to understand the blessings of family. It was my haven and my happy place. Eventually, during COVID, my aunt and uncle decided to sell their house. I was stunned and devastated, feeling that the sale marked the end of an era.
The First Reading from the Prophet Joel today explains how God’s people prepared for the end of something- the end of the world. The advice from Joel can provide us with guidance on dealing with the end of things. The People of God were advised to approach the alleged end of time with prayer, fasting, and acts of gratitude.
Every end presents its challenges, some small, like the trivial disappointment of finishing an ice cream cone or a favorite TV show, or the sale of a beach house that wasn’t even my own, and some large, like the heartbreaking anguish that accompanies the loss of a loved one.
Although we can never be fully prepared for something that abruptly comes to an end, we can try to view these experiences a little differently. We can attempt to live more fully in each moment to better treasure the various experiences that life has to offer. We can remember to give thanks for our blessings each and every day. Through God, we can recognize and appreciate the beauty of our past adventures and the people and memories we will forever hold. And, with His guiding hand, God can help us to remember that with every end comes a new beginning.
Oftentimes it is difficult to appreciate what is right in front of us when we expect it to always be there. But as a Fenwick community, we can work to embrace the occasions that bring us joy and express our gratitude towards God for gifting us these moments and opportunities.
In giving God our prayers and trust, , we can further cultivate our relationship with God and those around us so that when our own “end times” approach, we are prepared to be united with God.
During this month of October, when we celebrate the rosary, we can remember the power of prayer. Through the prayers of the rosary and Mary, the Mother of God, we can find the guidance to grow closer with our Creator and the strength to understand that some experiences are fleeting, so we must cherish them as they come.
Anna Schloss ’24 provided the Student Reflection at the Feast of the Archangels Mass on Friday, September 29, 2023.
Good Morning Friars! My name is Anna Schloss of the class of 2024 and I’d like to take a moment to welcome you to mass this Friday morning.
Today we celebrate the feast of the archangels, Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. The archangels are often viewed as heroic messengers and protectors of the Church. St. Michael’s greatest feat was defeating Satan in dragon form in the Book of Revelation, St. Gabriel’s appearing to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, and St. Raphael’s healing Tobit and Sarah when they both prayed for death. The archangels are symbols of strength, courage, and heavenly power and, while this is important, it can also seem daunting. How are we supposed to follow the example of the archangels when we aren’t powerful, divine creatures but mere humans?
When I was in kindergarten, my grade school matched us up with eighth-grade students that would be our mentors for the entire school year. These eighth graders were called our “guardian angels.” As guardian angels, they were meant to be role models of faith and goodness for the youngest students in the school. We had a special mass and ceremony, sang songs with our “guardian angels,” and received angel pins. The school made a big deal out of this as it had been a tradition for what seemed like forever. Truthfully, as a kindergartener, I didn’t understand this tradition’s importance. I never talked to my eighth grader outside of our scheduled activities and didn’t understand what it meant to have a guardian angel. My eighth grader wasn’t there to constantly protect me or teach me so the whole idea seemed pointless. However, when I entered eighth grade and finally got to be a guardian angel to a kindergartener, I began to understand the tradition’s significance.
Eighth grade was the year I was confirmed and happened to be the year I began to take hold of my faith and actively work to grow in my relationship with God. As I spent more time focusing on my faith and my role in the church, I realized how important my mentorship was to the youngest students in our school and our parish community. As an eighth-grade guardian angel, it wasn’t my job to fight dragons. It wasn’t my job to perform miracles or be a divinely powerful being. I was called to be a symbol of God’s strength and courage in humanity by showing the kindergarteners how to participate in mass and by doing acts of service with them. This guardian angel tradition shows us that the angels and archangels are there to protect us and that we can model their values in our own lives. This doesn’t need to be done in a matter of grandeur but rather by having the courage to practice our faith when it is challenged and by having the strength to continually reach out to God even when we don’t feel close to Him. The angels and archangels are symbols of God’s love and serve as our guides as we navigate both our lives on earth and our spiritual lives.
I would like to leave you with the lyrics of the guardian angel song we’d always sing during the ceremony. I invite you to open your hearts to feel the presence of God and the angels. I invite you to open your minds so that we can imitate their values of strength and courage. And now we pray:
“Angels before me, guide and direct me. Angels behind me, guard and protect me. Angels above me, keep watching over me. Angels beside me, care for and comfort me. Amen.”
Xahil Gonzalez ’24 provided the Student Reflection at the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows Mass on Friday, September 15, 2023.
Good Morning. My name is Xahil Gonzalez from the class of 2024. I would like to welcome all of you to this Mass celebrating the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The name “Our Lady of Sorrows” was given to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Often depicted mourning the loss of her son, this name was meant to exemplify the immense pain and suffering she had gone through during the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Full of the sorrow and grief that comes along with the loss of a son, through the hurt she rejoiced his death as she knew what was to come of it. Our Lord sent his only son to be born from the Blessed Mary, only to suffer and die for our sins. She knew his suffering was necessary for Salvation. She knew he was our inheritance.
When we hear the word inheritance, we may find ourselves imagining a distant relative we may have never met, or even heard of, who might leave us an estate or castle in a foreign country. We might imagine hearing the news of a great uncle or aunt leaving us a sizable amount of money that would allow us a lavish existence for the rest of our lives. But that is not the definition I mean as today’s responsorial psalm says, “you are my inheritance, O Lord.” When he died for us, we were given an undeserved favor in the form of Grace, something not earned but given freely. We were forgiven from our sins and granted mercy in order to achieve salvation. Sometimes it may seem as if we do not deserve the infinite love and mercy of Our God, but that is the thing about inheritances: one receives it regardless of their worthiness.
Sometimes it can feel as if we are isolated in life, but I can assure you that we are never alone because the Lord is always with us. There have been times where I have felt that I was alone, hopelessly walking, feeling as if there was no actual light at the end of the tunnel; however, I could not have been more wrong.
Last year I lost someone who I was very close to and I was deeply affected by it. The pain of knowing I’d never see them again caused me to lash out and just feel angry all the time. I felt unworthy of any forgiveness and kept pushing away my faith. But I knew that in those moments, I had to remember that His undying love and mercy was my inheritance, whether I felt I deserved it or not. I remembered that through my baptism I had placed my faith and my heart in the hands of God as I knew to trust whatever he had planned for me. I knew he would lead me to the light. As the psalmist says, we are to turn to the Lord for answers, and He will provide them.
Our Lady stood by her son while he suffered and died for our sins. Even when faced with his death, He was not alone. Our Lady suffered alongside Him. She was mourning her son just like anyone would for someone they loved. We must remember to take refuge in the Lord, as she did, for he is our shelter. We must learn to seek counsel from Him, for he is our teacher. He is always with us and in our presence, for he is the path to life. It is important to remember that no matter what we may be going through, He will always be with us to guide us, teach us, console us for the Lord is our inheritance.
And now, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and Our Lady, if you know it and would like to, please join me in saying the “Dios te salve, Maria.”
“Dios te salve, María, Llena eres de gracia, el Señor está contigo. Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres, y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús. Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros, pecadores, ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amen”
In medieval Tuscany, the Dominican Prioress (1268-1317) was known as a miracle worker.
By Student Preacher Rozlyn Plazas ’24 (Elmwood Park, IL)
Good Morning, fellow Friars. My name is Rozlyn Plazas from the Class of 2024, and it is an honor to address you all at today’s school-wide mass. Today, as we commemorate the life of St. Agnes of Montepulciano, I invite us to reflect on her legacy and how it can inspire us to deepen our relationship with God.
St. Agnes, a revered Dominican foundress, led a life of profound faith and devotion to God, and was a significant source of inspiration for St. Catherine of Siena, one of the Church’s most esteemed saints. St. Catherine, a Doctor of the Church, who was a great teacher, a prophetic witness to God’s Grace in the world, and an example of compassion and service, found her Dominican vocation after visiting the shrine where St Agnes lies. Like St. Agnes, St. Catherine lived vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and dedicated herself to a life of prayer, penance, and works of charity. The unwavering commitment to these virtues, coupled with the graces of wisdom and prudence given to both Sts. Agnes and Catherine, had a profound impact on the Church and is an inspiring example for all.
As students and Friars, we may encounter challenges and hardships that test our faith and make us question the presence of God in our lives. I know this feeling all too well, as last year I grieved the loss of two family members to illness within the span of six months. I was angry, filled with rage, blaming the world, and even exerted this anger towards God. When I reflect on my own personal experience, I realized that God never left my side during my time of grief.
A quote by St. Agnes describes this feeling. “I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me.” Like St. Agnes, I too was able to deepen my relationship with God and find solace in his love and presence. In the midst of my pain, I felt the presence of God, just as St. Agnes had described. He never left my side, and slowly but surely, I began to find peace and healing. I realized that God was not the cause of my suffering but rather a source of comfort and strength. St. Agnes’ message of unwavering faith and devotion to God can serve as inspiration to us all. In our lives, we will face trials and tribulations, and it can be easy to feel lost and alone.
And just like St. Agnes, we can turn to God for guidance and comfort. God is always present in our lives, even in the darkest moments. St. Agnes’ unwavering commitment to prayer and devotion to God serves as a motivation for us all. As students, we can each find our own unique way to strengthen our faith and rely on God in our daily lives. Through our own personal experiences and the faith-filled witness of Sts. Agnes and Catherine, we can learn to trust in God’s plan for our lives and find comfort in his unconditional love and grace.
As we move through the remaining weeks of the school year, each of us can strive to deepen our relationship with God in our own way. Whether it be preparing to go off to college, start a summer job, or embark on the new opportunities to come. We can do this all through prayer, meditation on the Word of God, and receiving the sacraments with devotion. We can draw strength from St. Agnes’ example and allow our hearts to be transformed to love like Christ.
By Student Preacher Grant Schleiter ’23 (Elmhurst, IL)
In today’s gospel Jesus lays out the connection between him and God the father. Jesus describes himself as a reflection of God, stating that “for what he does, the Son will also do.” God showed his love for us by creating us and then taking on human flesh as Jesus. Our goal as Christians is to mimic the life of Christ, and walk the way of our Savior.
I am not saying we all have to go sit in a desert for 40 days, or get nailed to a cross. I am saying we must do what Jesus did the most: preach. Share the Good News of God with others.
Let’s do some simple math. What is 2 to the power of1?2. What about 2 to the power of 2? 4. 2 to the power of 3 is eight. Now does anyone know what 2 to the power of 2000? Toby? Quinn? Mr. Finnell? Let’s just say it is far larger than the current world population of 7.8 billion. If we say that Jesus entered the world sometime before the “year 0” and began his teaching a few decades after that, by the end of the third decade CE there would be at least one Christian in the world. And if this Christian inspired someone else through sharingthe teachings of Jesus, so now we are at 2 followers at the end of that year. If every succeeding year, every Christian made one disciple, what would happen after 2000 years?
Referencing my math earlier, if every Christian were to share the Good News to one person a year, the number of Christians would be well over our world population. But instead the number of Christians is declining. From 1976 to 2022 the United States has declined from 91% Christian, to 64%. To follow in the footsteps of God, we need to share the good news and inspire others.
I can assume most people in this auditorium right now cannot just pull out a Bible verse for every situation in life, but once again this is not necessary for effective preaching. All you need is a common understanding of the scripture, and to learn how Jesus acted. The easiest way to do this is the Gospel. There are 8,760 hours in a year, and God only asks you for 52 of those. If Jesus sacrificed His whole life for you on the cross, you can sacrifice .59% of your year for Him. And if you worry that you have not been going to Mass enough, now is the time to start. Jesus will never leave you. Like a lighthouse, His light will always project in your darkness. The closer you are to the light, the closer you are to the safety of shore.
Brothers and sisters, we have such a great gift in our faith, and the best thing we can do is give it to others. Procrastination of our faith impacts others and may contribute to the decline in Christianity. God did not put us on this world to effortlessly cruise through life expecting to make it into Heaven. God expects us to take the stairs instead of the escalator when it comes to our faith. Putting in that extra work to not only focus on yourself, but also to focus on others. Going to Mass, learning about the Gospel, turning the other cheek, and following the golden rule are all simple ways we can take the extra step in our Faith. Faith can make a tremendous impact on someone’s life, so the best thing we can do for others is let them also enjoy the gifts of God’s love.
As Lent starts to come to a close and the Easter season begins, let us think about the sacrifices Jesus made, and think about what we can do to spread the Love of God shown through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Embrace God’s love and spread that to others; in doing so, you will be a true reflection of Jesus. We are all very fortunate enough to receive education on Theology here at Fenwick, so use that knowledge and spread it to others that are not as fortunate. I know each and every one of you are great people, because you are all God’s children, and to mimic Jesus we must also be fishers of men and bring more people into our faith.
The Friars out-performed staunch competition from Latin School of Chicago and north suburban Lake Forest Academy.
On Saturday, February 25, at the Niles West State Math Regionals, Fenwick took first place and — for the 30th consecutive year — qualified all 33 members of itsMath Team for the State Math Finals. The finals will be held at Illinois State University in Normal, IL, in April. The top three Math Teams (with their scores):
Lake Forest Academy 832
Latin School 661
The Friars finished first in five of the ten events:
Algebra 2 Team
Oral Math Topic Team
Two-person Junior/Senior Team
Eight-person Freshman/Sophomore Team
In individual events, for the first time in the 43 years of the State Contest, Fenwick had two perfect scores: by Kyra Miller ’25 (Riverside, IL) in Geometry and Tuoyu “Toby” Yang ’24 (Oak Park, IL)in Algebra 2. Quinn Hynes ’23 (Western Springs, IL) also placed first in Pre-Calculus.
Congratulations to the entire team and their six coaches/moderators: Mrs. Brigid Esposito ’96, Mr. Roger Finnell ’59, Mrs. Bozena Kopf, Mrs. Maria Nowicki, Mr. Andrew Reuland ’94 and Ms. Diane Sabbia!
“Ashes fade, but our faith remains,” senior student reminds her Fenwick classmates.
By Preaching Team Member Natalie Poleszak ’23 (Burr Ridge, IL)
Did you leave your car running this morning? Did you take a second to remember you locked it? During this season, we are often so occupied with giving up a favorite soda or candy that we forget to slow down. So excited for Easter, we lose focus on what’s important.
Today, I ask each one of you to for a moment forget about the Spanish test you have or what you will be doing this weekend to slow down.
I know Fenwick students are sometimes unable to do this because I see it in the parking lot everyday. In a rush to get to their favorite parking spot or to even make it past the light, we often forget to look around. Similarly, how often do we think about an intention before we mindlessly pray with our peers before class. How often do we check up on our friends or tell our parents thank you? I am guilty of not doing these things myself.
Today I challenge you to practice patience. I challenge you to park within the lines. For even though your awareness fades, the impact remains.
You may be asking yourself, ‘Natalie why are you talking about the parking garage on Ash Wednesday?’ Driving is something we all experience in our lives. Likewise, everyone at Fenwick has to learn about faith in their theology classes. Why not incorporate it into the simple moments in your life?
Even with all of this preparation and growth in our personal lives, it’s not important unless we get out and actually do it. So today we are challenged to consider the other person in the car next to us. To not cut them off, or honk the horn, or to let them in front of us. Let the ash on your forehead serve as a reminder in your busy lives. For even as the cross on your forehead fades, our faith remains.
As we once again enter the beginning of another Lenten season, the all-important question of “what should I do for Lent this year?” more than likely has come to mind. Before you or I decide to once again abstain from cookies, candies, carbonated drinks, or coffee beverages for the season of Lent, it is worthwhile considering the purpose of the season of Lent. In doing so, we can gain a better sense of the purpose of these resolutions, and what they can do to help us with our spiritual journeys.
The season of Lent has its origins in the catechumenate preparation period for their entrance into the Christian Church at Easter Vigil. In the early Church (2nd-4th centuries), initiated Christians were encouraged to join in this time of prayer and fasting- recalling their own baptism, but also those preparing to join the Church. For catechumens, Lent was a long and rigorous period of examination, catechesis, and ascetical cleansing of body and soul during the forty days leading up to Easter.
As infant baptism became the norm, the number of new initiates decreased, but the practice of forty days of fasting continued.
It is worth noting that early on, Lent required the abstention from meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, wine, and oil. In other words, only fruits, vegetables, bread, salt, and water were allowed to be consumed during this time period. Likewise, only one full meal was allowed to be consumed during the day. As time went on, allowances for one to two small snacks (collations) for laborers was added. This time of fasting was seen as an opportunity to cleanse oneself of attachments to food and drink, but also to reflect upon one’s own baptism and need for continual repentance.
Following the Second Vatican Council, the requirement to abstain from meat on Fridays, to only take one full meal during the season of Lent and other ascetical actions were lessened. (Please see the bottom of this reflection for the list of guidelines provided by the USCCB for days of fasting and abstinence in the Latin Catholic Church).
This lessening of expectations over time is not true for many of our Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters who still begin Lent with a three week period of gradually removing certain dietary items from their meals in preparation for the Lenten abstention from meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, added sugar products, chocolate, alcohol, and vegetable oils for the full duration of Lent (including Sundays).
The practice of truly abstaining from food such as Orthodox Christian or our pre-Vatican II predecessors would be a very difficult task for me. It would make me uncomfortable, and mindful of my attachment to my favorite foods and beverages, and other things of this world. Our goal for Lent should be to replicate that experience today- seeking to make ourselves uncomfortable, and mindful of the need for conversion, and God’s help. This will make for a truly radical and transformative Lent.
If we choose to give up a certain food or drink during Lent, our call is to pray for God’s assistance when our stomach growls, or eyes see a desirable treat in front of us. We should pray for God’s help in growing more detached from physical goods so that we might be able to live a simpler life, one more dependent upon Him, and His generosity. As well it is a reminder to pray for those whom a meager diet like this is not a seasonal thing, but an everyday reality.
To assist us in better using Lent as a period of cleansing in anticipation of Easter, the Church calls her members to live out the prophetic call to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during the season of Lent.
How can we best embrace one or more of these facets?
Some questions to consider when planning out your Lenten practices:
What is it that you need to do in your life to grow in your awareness of your attachments to this world?
What are those things that distract you from being present to God and your neighbor?
What practices or actions should you undertake to better center yourself on what is truly important?
This Lent, Perhaps Consider Committing To:
Fasting: Don’t just give up candy, or junk food, but instead consider:
Fast from distractions use your phone or other electronic device less, and instead use that time:
Chatting with a relative, or other loved one.
Visiting an elderly neighbor to talk or help with chores.
Educate yourself about the challenges that many face across the globe:
Learn about the plight of Christians in Nigeria, Myanmar, Central America, China, and the Middle East.
Become aware of the challenges that refugees face throughout the world.
Learn more about the reality of hunger for many children throughout the world and in the US.
Fast from luxury goods: Don’t purchase fancy coffee drinks, or fast food once a week, and donate the money to a cause that is important to you.
Support Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl campaign.
Fasting from sleeping in: Don’t snooze your alarm clock for the season of Lent, and use this time to say some prayers for your loved ones, or do chores/kind acts for those you live with..
Fast from harsh words: Get off social media, or make the choice not to respond to the hurtful comments someone may have said to you, or wrote about you on social media, but instead offer a prayer for them.
Fast from apathy and complaining: Pick up trash that you might see around you, instead of walking by it, or do those little things that need to be done instead of complaining.
Fast from griping about those things outside your control: Don’t complain about what is wrong with the world, but instead give thanks for what is going well, and seek to encounter others with gratitude for those little things they do to help you. As well, offer your complaints as a prayer of supplication to God.
Alumnus Fr. Tom Logue ’11, who grew up in the Hinsdale, IL parish of St. Isaac Jogues, returned to Fenwick on January — to preach as a priest!
By Father Thomas Logue
My name is Fr. Thomas Logue, and I graduated from this school some 12 years ago now, and I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ just this past May.
It’s great being back in this way to celebrate this Mass. I was on Kairos with a couple of the alumni here who are my age, and many of my teachers from my time as a student are still here, which is awesome. If I recall correctly, I think in Latin class, Dr. Porter told us we wouldn’t use Latin all the much.
So, I’ve just got to say, Dr. Porter, as a priest I get to use Latin all the time: checkmate.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Conversion of St Paul. And you might be wondering, “Okay, that’s cool, Father, but what’s with the gold thing you processed in with?”
Well, I’m glad you asked! My doctor happens to be a fellow alumn, and we have worked together in healing ministry; he lent me this relic of St. Paul — I believe it is a fragment of his bone. So we’re incredibly blessed that this real man will be with us as we come to worship the real Jesus together with him.
Now, as we look at what this man experienced, coming face-to-face with God the Son in resurrected human flesh, and who was struck blind for three days thence — all these amazing things — we have to remember that Luke — the guy who wrote this down — didn’t write it down for Paul:
“Hey, Paul, want to hear the story you told me again?” “Um, no.”
God, the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write this down for me and for you, so that we might believe. It was all written for you ….
So, that begs the question: All this crazy stuff happened to this man that fundamentally changed him from a murderer of Christians into the greatest Christian witness the world has ever seen — okay.
But, what’s the import for me?
It all centers on the one question Paul asks of Jesus: “Who are You, Lord?” . . . “Who are You, Lord?”
Because, for Paul up to this point, before encountering Christ, if someone asked him, “Have you ever heard of Jesus? Who is He?” he’d ultimately say something like: “Jesus is just some dead nobody who’s keeping my life and my culture, even my worship, from what I want it to be. Just some dead nobody who’s caused me a lot of trouble.
But the genuine revelation of the Catholic faith says something quite different, otherwise this school wouldn’t exist; the Catholic faith wouldn’t exist.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is the God who holds us in existence.
He is God the Son who took on my broken human flesh, calling first the Jewish people, and through them the whole world — me and you — back into relationship with the True and Living God, Himself. And, to do this, from our lowly human flesh, as God and as a Man, He made a perfect act of love to God the Father when He consecrated Himself a sacrifice for me and for you, and then died a torturous death by suffocation in crucifixion, and rose three days later.
“Who are You, Lord?”
But even from 13 years of Catholic schooling growing up, I feel like many, many of my peers, and even a few of my teachers, and me especially, if asked, not just on a theology test, but through the way you can really tell what someone believes — by how we live — if you asked us, “Who is Jesus?” and looked at how we live, our answers might correspond to something like:
“He’s just a good moral teacher, or maybe a revolutionary.”
Or, “He just asked us to be nice or something; He died, but He didn’t rise from the dead — He’d have to be like, God or something, lol.”
Or, “He was just a made up idea that helps people be kind.”
In our culture, and in a culture like this, when we reject Christ, we don’t usually reject Christ outright. We make a new Christ that fits my view of things. And, as a priest who I know says, “that is a very effective way of murdering Jesus Christ, to change Him to suit our own desires.” It’s not the real Jesus we talk about when we do this. We are just making up our own.
And what I felt — and some of you might know what I’m talking about, though I hope you don’t know what I’m talking about — I felt like, ironically, the Catholic culture for me growing up, and the apathy I experienced towards the faith and towards our Lord in it, which seemed louder than the Gospel — that it almost vaccinated me against Catholicism.
You might be thinking, “Vaccinated?” You know, with old school vaccines (not the new mRNA stuff) if you want to make someone immune to something that is very contagious, what you do is you take the contagious thing, you isolate it, you kill it, and then you inject the dead thing into the person, so that when they encounter the real thing out in the world, their system just says, “Oh, I know what that is, and it’s not for me.”
But what have we done the past few generations with our Catholic faith but this very thing? We isolate the fullness of the faith and the real Jesus, we give to our young people a dead, seriously deficient version of the faith, and we’re surprised they don’t practice it — when in fact we’ve vaccinated them against it.
We do this to our Catholic faith, and this has happened to many of us here. C.S. Lewis says, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
Well, this was the message I got — that it’s moderately important: like basketball or a TV show. And since this, sadly, is how many of us were raised, when confronted with Christianity and the real Jesus who calls us to repent, who calls us to change — when, in fact, we don’t want to repent; when we don’t want to change — what do we do but try and invent our own Christ.
But, tragically, we know that when we invent our own Christ, that our own “Jesus” is totally impotent; that “my Jesus” is powerless to save or forgive me; that when I erect my own “Jesus,” in my own image, the only person I worship is me. And, if I’m honest, I am powerless to save myself … and so I lock myself within my own heart.
But the real Jesus, who comes knocking on the door of our locked hearts — the One who appeared to Paul — we know and believe that He can actually do something about my life. This Man who conquered death and is alive right now, with real Blood flowing through real veins as He sits at the right hand of the Father — that He can heal me; He can save me. He comes full of mercy, full of peace, forgiveness, with genuine meaning (not the futile self-fabricated kind) — real, genuine, objective meaning from the Person who is Truth Incarnate Himself — He offers this for those who will receive Him as Lord, as Master and as Savior.
Ask Him, “Who are you, Lord?”
In my own practice of the faith, my parents went to Mass, and though I felt an affection for the Lord, the liturgy and prayer in childhood (I was even considering priesthood non-stop since I was 5), as I got into junior high and the sort of vaccination I received against Catholicism began to take effect, along with my difficulties with some of my peers and distance from my family, I began to, like Paul, frame Jesus as someone else than who He really is:
“Maybe he’s just a good teacher, probably not God,” I pondered. But this was just a cover for the fact that, even though I was interested in Jesus, I doubted that He could really be interested in me. I felt rather unloved and unwanted, and began to paint the lies on my heart over the face of God.
By the time I got into high school here at Fenwick, I was pretty convinced I was an atheist, and that Christianity was some weird scheme or money grab; it was just something I had to just endure and put up with until I graduated. But through the testimony of the priest who taught me freshman year, I began just to crack open the door of my heart, and a little bit of light began to shine into my darkness. I was beginning to believe. And, at the time, although I was dead scared of going to confession, I felt tugged towards it, and it terrified me.
My sophomore year, I was sitting next to my atheist friend up in the front row of the nosebleed seats here in the Auditorium when all-school confessions were being heard, and I finally overcame that fear and, by the grace of God, returned to confession for the first time in 9 years. It was incredible.
But I was still clinging to sin in my life, and it was slowly eating away at me. It wasn’t until my senior year about this time of year, actually — that things came to a head.
I went on the Kairos retreat and had such a profound encounter with the real Jesus that all I could do was weep on the floor in my bedroom, overwhelmed by this love I hadn’t known before, but was utterly familiar, and had been present all my life, in all of my pain. And laying prostrate before the crucifix in my room (like I saw one of the Dominicans do at his ordination), I looked up at the cross through tear-blurred eyes and said, “I will do whatever You want me to do, Jesus, just tell me what it is.”
Well, spoiler — He made that pretty clear.
Needing the Lord
But, due to my surrounding myself with less than quality friends, the following week (again, about this time of the year), I got in some very big trouble in pretty much every aspect of my life. Got 15 detentions and demerits. I was in trouble in school and out of school; it was a huge mess. I bet you didn’t think a priest alum would say something like that!
I realized through the experience of my big mess up that some ofthe friends I thought were my best friends that I had invested in for 6+ years were in fact just using me. And in my hunger for acceptance, after naming the serious wounds of rejection I’d felt for years, I found myself drifting further and further from the Lord.
Fr. Jarosław Krawiec, O.P. wrote this Christmas greeting on December 22, 2022. It is a humbling tale of the struggles and incredible faith of the people of Ukraine through the eyes of a Dominican friar.
Translated from Polish:
Dear sisters, dear brothers, I never thought that one could long for lights. When I got off the Kyiv train in Warsaw, I was surprised by the festival of brightly lit streets, buildings, and, above all, colorful Christmas decorations. When you add to it the snow that just fell in Poland in abundant supply, it all looked like a New Year’s fairytale. In Ukraine, the last couple months have been getting colder and darker. The longer this lasts, the more I squint my eyes in disbelief when looking at the bright streets and storefronts as well as entering warm houses and priories abroad.
On the day of Saint Nicholas — which in Ukraine is celebrated on December 19 following the Eastern calendar — a new Christmas tree was officially unveiled in the center of Kyiv. It was placed, as in previous years, on the square in front of the Saint Sophia Cathedral, the oldest and most important Christian church in Ukraine. The Christmas tree is much more modest and 60 feet shorter than last year. There is no market place surrounding it, which in Ukraine used to be a necessary element of the “New Year holiday,” as Christmas is frequently called here.
Over the last couple weeks, a great discussion has been taking place in Ukraine on the subject of whether Christmas decorations and trees should be displayed in public places during the time when so many millions of people suffer daily because of war and lack of power. The opinion is divided. The mayor of Chortkiv, a small city in western Ukraine where the Dominicans have been present for over 400 years, had already announced in mid-November that: “This year, the Christmas tree and New Year celebration in the city center will be canceled!” To avoid misunderstandings, he immediately added that the most important thing is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and the decorations and loud festivities can wait until the war is over. Many people think similarly.
The capitol decided differently. “We must have the Christmas tree!” stated the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko. “Our children should be able to have festivities! Despite the fact that the Russian barbarians are trying to rob Ukrainians from the joy of Christmas and New Year.” I understand the opponents of Christmas trees, but my position is decisively closer to the attitude of the mayor of Kyiv. I heard the opinion of a frontline soldier who was unhappy that his children would be deprived of Christmas. “But this is exactly what we are fighting for, a normal life for our families!” he argued.
Near the Kyiv Christmas tree, I spotted a strange contraption. Cement blocks that until recently had been positioned across the street as a barricade were now painted red, and large eyes were attached to them. It’s part of an artistic project called “Children shouldn’t see the war,” whose authors want to spare the youngest inhabitants of the city the painful experience of seeing a landscape of war during the holidays. This is important since Kyiv now hosts a couple hundred thousand people who have escaped from destroyed cities and villages. This is also the way in which the initiators of this project want to raise funds to help children who have lost one of both parents as a result of the war. Sadly, this number is also growing daily.
This year’s Christmas Eve will mark exactly the tenth month of war. On February 24 we all woke up in Ukraine early in the morning to the sound of air raid sirens, explosions, text messages, and phone calls from the terrified friends and family members attempting to find out if we are okay. On the evening of December 24, billions of Christians around the world will begin the celebration of the birth of Christ. This number will include a handful of Roman Catholics in Ukraine, since a majority of the citizens of the country are Christians of eastern traditions and begin celebrations two weeks later. War, however, is causing many of them to demand with increasing intensity the transition to the “Gregorian calendar,” and the bishops of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which is independent from Moscow and led by the Metropolitan Epiphanius, are allowing some parishes to celebrate Christmas together with the western world.
This Christmas will be a different one, quieter and wrapped in darkness. Even if we tried to forget for a moment about the hard times and lose ourselves in Christmas shopping, visiting, and decorating, we can’t. Many people have lost their jobs and are in a very difficult economic situation. They will not be able to afford a plentiful Christmas table and gifts. Apart from this, for the last two months there has been a shortage of power and light. Some people have power only periodically; others, like people from Antonivka, don’t have it at all.
Antonivka is a village outside of Kherson, with a huge bridge connecting the shores of the Dnieper River that was first attacked by the Ukrainian army and then by the Russians. We delivered humanitarian supplies there two weeks ago. The bus with boxes of food was unloaded very quickly. The village is located right on the bank of the river, and on the other side is the Russian army.
“My friends, don’t stay in groups. Do not create a gathering, so that drones won’t detect us and start shooting,” yelled the ladies coordinating the distribution of humanitarian aid. A couple hours earlier, artillery had destroyed a nearby house, and we helped an older woman get out of her basement and transported her to a safer location. While Father Misha talked with the inhabitants of Antonivka, I saw tears in their eyes. They cried out of disbelief that someone came to them. This is another time that I realized that one of the worst things in war is the feeling of being abandoned. I remember the first days of fighting around Kyiv, when Maryna had asked me to bring supplies to a single mother of a son. When we were leaving the woman had asked, “When it gets really bad, will you help me? Will I be alone?”