Lent Invites Us to Join Jesus in the Desert

By Dr. Gilberto Hinojosa, professor emeritus

Lent invites us to join Jesus in the desert.

But what about that good old Catholic school refrain: “What should I give up for Lent?”?  Is it on its way out?

In some way, that would be good because it was simplistic.  After all, giving up ice cream, sodas, or Girl Scout Cookies does not automatically make us better persons.  In fact, few of those Lenten denials turned into permanent good habits.  And to be honest, no one really suffered from those “sacrifices.”

But wait!  Giving up something was a good reminder that Lent is a special season.

Dr. Gilberto Hinojosa reflects on the sacrifice of Lent and “walking in the desert.”

We need reminders that we need spend time in the “desert.”  Lent is supposed to pull us away from our daily routines and draw us into the mysteries of the life of God in us and among us.

Being in the desert involves solitude, being alone, away from distractions.

In today’s terms, it might mean shutting down the cell phone, the tablet, or the laptop, getting away from constantly being in touch with others, and getting ourselves away from the world of entertainment.

I sometimes check my phone in the car on my way to work or home, sometimes while running an errand, or while waiting for the traffic light to change.  Now, technically I am not driving, but it’s still pretty silly that I need to be aware, at all times, of any emails or earth-shaking newsbreaks.  This is reflective of the habit of cluttering up my life.

I have, however, developed a habit of some quiet, “desert” moments during the day.  But they are brief and, to be honest, they are only a couple – as in two.

Will giving up my favorite something – having a delicious fish dinner on Lenten Fridays is no sacrifice! – change my life?  It should at least push me into a few more minutes of being alone with myself and with my God.

UIW Blog Lent is a Journey

Lent is a Journey

By Dr. Gilberto Hinojosa, professor emeritus

Lent is a journey to Holy Week.

It is a season of anticipation of the celebration of the central mystery of our faith: Christ’s death and resurrection. In some way, Lent is like the Gospels, all of which are, according to some scholars, long introductions to the core story of the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord.

So, Lent is a season of traveling along a long road. In our time, it may appear too long.

Dr. Gilberto Hinojosa reflects on the importance of the long Lenten wait.

We go quickly from one sports season to another, from one popular celebration to another, and indeed from one news cycle to another. In the past, Lent always seemed very long to me. Nowadays it seems even longer.

Yet, we are told, the ending – Holy Week – is worth waiting for.

Jesus’s journey of his death and resurrection entailed working his way through his ministry of teaching and healing. And he began that stretch of the journey by going into the desert.

In the desert he prayed and fasted – and he waited, something we have trouble doing today.  Lent seems long precisely because for us – or at least, for me – waiting is burdensome.

Waiting in Lent is difficult, in part, because we already know the ending. But this waiting is not about twiddling our thumbs in anticipation of something to happen. This waiting is about reflection and prayer.

Lent is, of course, also about doing something: changing life habits and helping others, particularly those in need. But even that involves reflection and prayer. We cannot change our lives and our relationships with others unless we change our relationship to our true, inner self and to God.

And reflection and prayer means taking some moments away from the hustle and bustle of everyday obligations and distractions. This entails listening to the Spirit of God.

One homilist at the beginning of Lent called attention to why Jesus went into the desert. One of the gospels, he reminded us, says the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert. Another says the Spirit led Jesus into the desert. And a third says Jesus, filled with the Spirit, went into the desert.

We have received the Spirit of God at baptism and that same Spirit drives us, leads us, and inspires us to take some time each day in the desert of silence and reflection. Without time to ponder on our relationship with God, the celebration of Good Friday and Easter Sunday will surely fly right past us.

Season of Giving: Four Opportunities to Give at UIW

Season of Service: Four Opportunities to Give at UIW

Christmas is a time of happiness, togetherness and cheer, but for many, the holiday season isn’t joyous or magical. Throughout the San Antonio area, needy and underserved children and families often go without basic necessities, much less holiday’s special tokens, treats and gifts. However, caring people are hard at work to help make their Christmases a bit brighter.

Right here at UIW, dedicated organizations offer several opportunities to embrace the spirit of the season and bring light and hope to local children and families. Remember: Every small contribution can make a big impact. Here’s how you can contribute:

Make the Holidays Happier for a Needy Child with Angel Tree

Once again, University Mission and Ministry has trimmed an Angel Tree in the foyer in front of Our Lady’s Chapel. You won’t see shiny holiday ornaments on this tree. In their place, Angel Trees are decorated with Angel Tags, or special tags featuring the Christmas wish or need of a child and/or a family with children. Mission and Ministry invites members of our UIW community to take a tag from the tree and purchase the item requested, then bring the item in a holiday bag with the original Angel Tag to the organization’s office in AD 147.

Items will be accepted through Friday, December 15, 2017. Distribution of the items will take place December 18 through 20. For more information, please contact Brenda Dimas or (210) 829-3128.

Bring Joy to Displaced Children with Project Santa Mom

The holidays can be hard for children separated from their parents and loved ones. The School of Professional Studies (SPS) Criminal Justice Society has organized a special toy drive with them in mind. Now, through late December, the organization is collecting toys for children whose mothers are incarcerated and who are living in homeless shelters.  Members of the Criminal Justice Society, with the support of volunteers, will wrap and deliver the gifts to the Bexar County Detention Center and homeless shelters for distribution.
Non-violent, unopened toys for children ages 3 through 13 can be donated through Friday, December 22 and dropped off in the designated boxes on main campus, or at the School of Professional Studies Northwest Center, located at 9729 Data Point Drive, Room 135. For more information, please contact Claudia Moreno or Tamara Thompson

Provide Comfort to Critically Ill Children though the Pull-Tab Collection Campaign for the Ronald McDonald House

Join the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International as they work to make days brighter for critically ill children and their families at the Ronald McDonald House. Simply pop the tabs from the top of your soda cans and drop them off in the designated bins or at reception in the Feik School of Pharmacy. Soda tabs are made from higher quality aluminum than the rest of the beverage can, and can be more easily recycled. The funds generated from the recycling campaign will contribute to the cost of day-to-day operations at the Ronald McDonald House, which becomes a second home for families of children undergoing medical treatment and care.

This campaign continues through the holiday season into the spring. Pop tabs will be accepted through Saturday, June 2, 2018. Participants are asked to drop off their tabs at the front desk of the Feik School of Pharmacy. For more information about the organization, visit CPFI.org.

Make Christmas Morning more Cheerful with Toys for Tots

The UIW Lions Club offers yet another way to bring Christmas cheer to underserved children. The club is hosting a campus-wide toy drive for the Toys for Tots organization. Toys for Tots, a program created by the U.S. Marine Corps, gathers new, unused and unwrapped toys to needy children in our local community.

Donations will be accepted from Monday, November 27 through Thursday, December 14 in designation donation stations in select buildings on main campus, including the Student Engagement Center, Mabee Library, Administration Building, Gorman Business and Education Center and more. For more information, contact the UIW Lions Club.