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?”