Boston College Campus Ministry hosts a Lenten retreat every year. This retreat is free, takes place on Boston College’s campus, and lasts for 40 days. The retreat has three components: prayer, companion, and gathering. For prayer, students who participate commit themselves to 20 minutes of prayer each day. Participants also receive a Lenten reflection in their email inbox each morning to guide their prayer throughout the day. They are also assigned a spiritual companion whom they meet with every week throughout the retreat. Companions are faculty, staff, or Campus Ministers here at Boston College and are a great resource for participants. The spiritual companions are available to talk about whatever the participants want to. Topics typically include the student’s prayer life and how to improve it, life experience, and methods of furthering their relationship with God in all aspects in their lives.
The third component of the Daily Lenten Retreat is gathering. In the past this would include weekly events focused on certain themes or prayers. However, with the participants’ busy schedules, it was rare if everyone could attend all of the events. This, along with our current political climate, caused Campus Ministry to change the gathering portion of the retreat. All participants in the Lenten Retreat this year are invited to join READ by FACES. FACES is a club here at BC that is dedicated to educating the Boston College community on the issues of race, identity, and systems of power and privilege. They do this through discussions, social interactions, academic forums, and dialogue. One of their main programs is READ. READ is a book club that meets once a week for an hour to discuss the book that FACES has chosen for the year. This year, the chosen book is America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis. The book was published recently and touches on many topics in our society right now. Wallis calls us to transcend racial categories to see each other in the image of God. He also points out the structural realities of racism, and notes that in order to combat racism, we need to do more than just deny it. We need to take action.
This Lenten season we are called to pray and repent of our sins, like we are every Lent, and every day, for that matter. But this retreat pushes participants further this Lent. Especially with the polarization in our country, Campus Ministry is calling retreatants to act in solidarity with those affected by discrimination and racial injustice. Throughout our country’s history many groups have been denied dignity and respect, and this problem is still present today.
“Lift Every Voice” invites students to lift their voices to the Lord in prayer and repentance. And let us lift up marginalized voices, in order to show that their voice and story still matters, even when the world tells them they do not.