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For Christians Around the World

Jim Collins ('84)

Christians around the world are experiencing the first few days of Lent. These forty days provide us the opportunity to recall the sufferings of Christ, but also to find hope in His resurrection and the gift of Eternal Life.

Like many, I grew up trying to think about what I could “give up” in shared sacrifice. Over the years, I’ve had fewer candy bars, glasses of beer, and desserts, among many other things. In more recent years, I’ve tried to do more: attending daily mass, adding consistency to the daily exercise routine, and being more consistent with my prayer life.

Just prior to Ash Wednesday, I had the pleasure of having a long conversation with a Loras student. We discussed a wide range of topics to include his Catholic faith and how he incorporates it into his daily life. I was struck by the profound simplicity of what he shared and the intentionality he has when it comes to incorporating his faith into daily life. His commitment to meditation, prayer, liturgy, and adoration are inspiring.

What I found most impressive, however, was this student’s focus on being in relationship with and service to others. I have had the opportunity to observe his interactions with many members of the Loras community and beyond during his almost two years on campus. Having had the chance to engage with him in person, it was clear that this young man has both a good heart and peace-filled soul. At some point during our visit, he asked me if I thought it was possible for ordinary people like him to become a saint. I responded by saying that while I can’t speak with authority, it was my belief that good people like him can live a saintly life and become a saint.

My time with this young student continues to resonate with me in my daily thoughts and prayers. As I reflected on his question, especially given the challenging and polarized times in which we live, I still conclude that ordinary people doing ordinary things for ordinary people are truly extraordinary. Committing oneself to a lifetime of goodness, being for others, and extending kindness toward all we encounter does not have to be motivated by the desire to become a saint. Instead, a pledge toward the common good, human dignity, and care for one another should suffice.

Many ponder and wonder, “what would Jesus do?” when confronted with a challenge or difficult situation. From my perspective, we already know what He did. He gave up His earthly life for us. Prior to this incredible sacrifice, He lived as an ordinary person and encountered ordinary others – saints, sinners, and many marginalized individuals. While He was extraordinary in that he performed countless miracles, he was especially so in the ways he extended kindness, love, care, gentleness, and grace to others.

I am grateful to my newfound friend who happens to be a Loras student. Our deep conversations have led me to adopt a simple and ordinary plan for Lent. While daily acts of kindness will be done by me, my goal will be to adopt a daily mentality that fosters ordinary habits of exhibiting love, patience, and care for others. With a little success, my prayer is that such an approach would extend well-beyond Lent and become a lifetime way of being. For me, I just need to remember what Jesus did and live by the “Golden Rule.” It seems so simple, yet extraordinary.

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