Are You In?

By David Willey

(Republished with permission from the Gauntlet)

While it is the truism of college life that “it’s over before you know it,” during the first three years, there is a (somewhat deceptive) impression of permanence created. So it is with a sense of surprise, some admixture of relief and sadness, that I stand in the middle of my last semester – and like Mr Marvell, “at my back I always hear Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near.” 

It is a curious exercise to reflect back on those elements which made up my own “Franciscan experience,” and there are some obvious contenders for the best parts of that experience. Being a part of Martyres Regis household; getting to explore Munich, Perugia, Bath, and Vienna with my closest friends; buying 1000 chicken nuggets for a Veritas debate; yes, even writing Gauntlet articles – all these have played a role in a fantastic college experience. Despite these, I would pinpoint my sophomore spring as one of my happiest times at Franciscan, and I would credit much of that happiness to my participation in the Exodus 90 program.

To be entirely honest, I was peer-pressured into it. I had always thought E90 seemed rather overwhelming, and when I was approached by a household brother suggesting persuasively (or forcefully, if you like) that I join the Exodus group he was starting, I hesitated. Eventually I agreed to try it, though with what was frankly something less than a Christian enthusiasm for the upcoming prayer and fasting.

I do not exaggerate when I say repeat, this was one of the happiest, most peace-filled, and fruitful periods of my time at college. I remember at the time a close friend of mine remarking on just how happy I seemed to be, and it was in that moment I realized what a blessing Exodus was, in the way that it made me seriously engage with my Faith. 

So I was delighted to learn that there is a campus wide initiative to hold a lentan version of Exodus called “Franciscan 40.” This event is taking the best of E90 and making it accessible for the whole of campus to participate – allowing us to make a proper holocaust to the LORD this Lent. God knows our campus needs it, this country needs it, and most importantly of all: we need it. The psalmist reminds us, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart” (Ps 24:3-4). Now is a time to renew ourselves, and now is the time God has allotted to be one of a rediscovery of the Father’s love. 

I chose to write this article because E90 had a serious, significant impact on my experience of college life at Franciscan, and I would have everyone share such an encounter with themselves and with the Lord. What an incredible opportunity for us to draw together as a community of the faithful. Let us be stirred to action by the words of Philip Neri, who would every day greet his companions with the question: “Ah brother, is it today that we are going to do good?”