Approaches to Lent for young adults during the pandemic

Editor’s note: The COVID-19 pandemic has made us reflect on what is most important in life. During Lent, The Compass offers an eight-part Lenten series of reflections on how readers can take their experiences from 2020 and apply them to Lent and Easter 2021.

As we sat in our office, trying to grasp the magnitude of this new “super virus” and the speed of which it was traveling across the world, there were so many mixed feelings. We feared for the health and safety of those around us, especially those most vulnerable – would this be the next “smallpox” or “plague?”

On the other hand, we were actually looking forward to the two-week stay-at-home order put in place by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (March 24, 2020). ??In a time when “busy” is seen as a badge of honor, we introverts were secretly looking forward to some much-needed time alone. 

The issue is that the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop after those two weeks and, in fact, there was no end in sight. The weeks turned into months and the months into a year. In that year, we have had to learn how to cope with searing isolation, the challenges of working from home, how to adapt with the loss of jobs, dealing with illness and death, and, perhaps the most challenging: how to navigate our faith in the midst of cancellations and dispensations. It, by no means, has been an easy journey. 

As we enter into Lent, we also enter into the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert. We are called to manifest that same sentiment in our own lives. As young adults, this past year has felt like a perpetual excursion in the desert; isolated, without community and so very thirsty for life-giving water. We should look to Jesus and his reaction to the same desert. Yes, he is God, but he is also human.

The temptations from the evil one were very real, but we need to remember they weren’t permanent. In fact, at the end of it all, Jesus was ministered to by holy angels. We are called to trust in that same providence. Easier said than done, we know, but it is in that trust that our Lord will bless us; it is in our trust that we place our faith. 

It might be difficult to feel supported during this time; even more so for young adults. Some of us may have no idea where to take the first step and others may feel like they have no place to turn. Whatever you’re feeling, that is 100% OK. What is so beautiful is that we all have a place to turn. We can all turn to prayer and, when we’re ready, ultimately, turn back to the Eucharist.

We need to embrace the challenge of the desert; let’s seek the healing of our holy angels as we build back our communities. As young adults, we have gifts, talents and personalities that are desperately needed in our dark world. Let us look to Jesus to get through this desert, but be transformed so that we can bring the light into the world. 

Sievers is director of Camp Tekakwitha and Kowalski is assistant director of Child and Youth Faith Formation for the Diocese of Green Bay.