Going Viral: The Backpacks of CTK

By Samantha Apanasewicz
Pop Trends Columnist

“Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day nor the hour.” -Matthew 25:13

I’m sure we’ve all experienced it at least once: you’re running late to Mass because your class ended ten minutes before Mass begins. You stopped to talk to a friend for a few minutes in Egan and you’ve used up all your free time. As you step into CTK, you attempt to enter the sanctuary through the side hall so as to not draw attention to yourself. You plan is foiled, however, by the impassible sea of coats, hats, keys and backpacks.

Whenever I encounter this phenomenon, instinct takes over; I throw down my bookbag, rip off my coat, unclip my keys and toss them onto my pile as I jog into Mass. This urge – to leave everything and anything at the door of the sanctuary before one enters – appears most often in the lives of Franciscan students in this specific context. I wonder, however, how taking this experience and applying it to other parts of our lives would help us to more fully engage with the world around us.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, we have entered the liturgical season of Lent, a time of repentance, discipline and most importantly, remembering our mortality. These Lenten themes were emphasized to me when I waited in the confession line at St. Pete’s a few weeks ago. Both confession lines stretched all the way to the back of the sanctuary. Believing my friend and I would be waiting a long while, I took my time getting through my examination of conscience.

But before I knew it, the confessional door was open in front of me and I stood face-to-face with its dark interior. I remember thinking to myself “I am not ready,” suddenly aware that I had only gotten through half my examination of conscience. I was presented with a choice: seize the opportunity and offer myself to God’s mercy without preparation, or shy away from complete abandonment of self and let the person behind me go first.

This instance, as well as the universal Franciscan student experience of dropping everything at the door of Christ the King, reflects the sacrifice and trust that is required of us during Lent. Whether or not we believe we are prepared for a spiritual experience, we are reminded of the mortality that makes us human and temporary. After all, on Ash Wednesday we are told “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return” – memento mori.

Lent is not about a race to the finish line or who can add or subtract the most from their spiritual and worldly lives. Rather, Lent is about how each individual can suffer in their own way. So take that chance, make that sacrifice, or seize those five minutes of free time to pray. We won’t be here forever, you know.

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