A Message from President Aceves

Dear Colleagues, 

As we embark upon Ash Wednesday, marking the commencement of the sacred Lenten journey, it is an opportune moment for introspection and reflection on the profound significance of the forthcoming forty days. Let us collectively pause and delve deeper into the spiritual insights that may be unveiled.

I invited Ms. Mary McManus from the Office of Mission to reflect on this sacred moment. Here is what she shared.

“Do you ever feel disconnected from those whom you love? From yourself? From God? For Christians, the liturgical season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (which this year falls on February 14). We begin by hearing the words spoken by the Hebrew Prophet, Joel: “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart” (2:12). We also hear of Jesus going into the desert to fast and pray so as to focus completely on God. Lent is an invitation to find our own quiet place of reconnection, our own relationship with God.

This invitation to return to God has been enticing me more than usual lately. I wonder: how would my life look different if I were to throw myself into God’s arms with reckless abandon this Lent?

I remember when my four kids were little, and I was so tired by the end of the day. The house was inevitably overrun with toys, their little faces and bodies were messy and needed baths, and an adventure to the grocery store by myself was like a Get Out of Jail Free Card. But when I think back on those times, the moments when I felt most connected with my kids were the ones when I got down on the floor and played with them. (Nowadays, the teenage version of that involves going out for Boba). I’ve learned to never turn down an invitation from my teens when they want to spend time with me.

How is it any different with God? The God who calls to us in the midst of the chaos of our lives? The One who gazes at us with wonder and affection. The One who wants to get down on the floor and play – if I’ll only stop for a moment to be attentive, and allow myself to enter into that space. How can we open ourselves to that deep and abiding love of God this Lent? 

Returning to God dovetails with the traditional tenets of Lent: fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Fasting helps us become aware of that which distracts from relationships; we become aware of our dependence on God. Almsgiving draws us into relationships with those around us, giving not only our spare change but our time, our attention and our love. It cultivates generosity. And prayer: our ongoing conversations with God. 

Feeling out of tune and out of touch happens to all of us. Part of the gift of the Christian liturgical cycle is the wisdom that knows we need a yearly spiritual tune-up. Lent creates the opportunity to pay attention to how God may be stirring in our lives. What if, this year, we take seriously the invitation to go with Jesus to a quiet place and so reconnect with our God from the depths of our hearts?"

Thank you, Mary. Your words strike a chord, underlining the importance of a meaningful "spiritual tune-up" and a purposeful slowing down during this Lenten season. Channeling the wisdom of Ignatius, who encourages us to discern the presence of God in every facet of our lives, let us actively commit to allocating time to observe and cherish the beauty in our surroundings.

I extend an invitation to embrace this Lenten season as an opportunity for quieting the mind, listening attentively, and discerning the gentle prompts of what God may be asking of each one of us. 


Salvador D. Aceves, Ed.D