Student volunteers at the Newman Centre prepare meatless lunches for Fasting Fridays for the Love Lent campaign. Photo courtesy Johnny Baby

Love Lent, and the journey to Christ

  • February 24, 2024

With Ash Wednesday, the Newman Centre embarked on a spiritual journey for Lent. 

The Catholic chaplaincy at the University of Toronto’s St. George campus launched a campaign known as “Love Lent” to provide various opportunities to engage in Lenten activities right up until the beginning of Holy Week. 

The name Love Lent is a play on words of the rare instance when Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, a deliberate choice to distance the start of Lent from its secular counterpart. 

“We wanted to re-isolate and re-focus on the true meaning of love and this person and His love which we’re supposed to be focusing on throughout this Lenten season, and that’s the love of Jesus Christ,” said Johny Baby, campus minister at the Newman Centre. 

This year marks the first official Love Lent campaign, with the inspiration stemming from the desire to return to the true meaning of Lent through participation in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. 

One such practice is eucharistic adoration, which is available for students at the Newman Centre every weekday from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., leading into daily Mass. 

“Spending that time in His presence and encountering the Lord and the Blessed Sacrament and receiving Him in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is love exemplified and magnified,” Baby said. “That is something really beautiful at the heart of all of our initiatives, this daily opportunity to encounter love Himself with each other.”

The centre is also hosting weekly Rosary spearheaded by a student volunteer who leads the prayers each Wednesday. Stations of the Cross will also be prayed by Fr. Mark Kolosowski each Friday. 

The combination of fasting and almsgiving is exemplified through Fasting Fridays. As the Church calls us to fast and abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, students prepare simple and meatless Lenten lunches to be sold to the community. 

“Anyone and everyone from outside is welcome to come into the house and grab these lunches for just $5,” Baby confirmed. “It really fits in with the component of almsgiving in that each of these students who volunteer is giving alms with their time and their effort for others.” 

A practice from last semester that will be returning to Love Lent is Bible study, with this semester’s feature covering the book No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion by Catholic author Edward Sri. 

No Greater Love was chosen as it guides participants through the last hours of Christ’s life, step-by-step from the garden of Gethsemane to Mount Calvary. The events are broken into five sessions where those who join will pray, watch, reflect and discuss Sri’s book and video series with Xerdon Catamora, who fronts the Newman Centre’s evangelization team. 

“We have to undertake this Lenten journey quite seriously and with an intentional purpose,” Baby emphasized. “That purpose is nothing but to grow closer and to grow deeper in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

“These 40 days are not ones that I am swiping off a calendar, these are 40 days that I’m eagerly journeying with and towards Jesus Christ.” 

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