As we gear up for another season of Lent, we are all faced with the decision of “What will I give up?” However, why does one always have to give up something for Lent? One does not have to necessarily give up something for Lent. For example, one could work on being more respectful toward others or even a commitment to work out every single day. Therefore, Lent is not always about giving something up. In the following article, I like how the writer describes why we do such acts during the Lenten season and states, “Giving up something for Lent is ultimately a form of fasting. We can deprive ourselves of some small pleasure or indulgence and offer that sacrifice up to God.”
In my opinion, many people get caught up in trying to figure out what they are giving up for Lent that they often forget why they are giving up something or improving upon something. However, in reality, we are making these changes for God. Therefore, it is important to make sure the change can be attainable, but not too easy that it dilutes the purpose of giving up something. Therefore, it can be challenging to find something that one can hold for the whole 40 days of Lent.
Here is a list of some unique things people have given up for Lent or changes they have made to their lifestyles, according to the top 100 choices from Twitter last year:
I think that some people struggle with finding what is going to provide the best impact on their lives because they are still trying to figure out who they are. Thus, just finding something that you do habitually or could easily eliminate from your life may be your best choice this Lenten season. Who knows, you may be able to better understand yourself and create a lasting impact on your life. Therefore, I think it’s possible for each of us to make that sacrifice for God.
If you’ve ever watched the hit TV series The Office then you definitely know who Dwight Schrute is. Well the actor who plays that character is named Rainn Wilson and he and his friends wrote a great book that urges you to push boundaries and think the BIG questions. They wrote the book after their website (soulpancake.com) became wildly popular. The website has great videos, inspiring challenges, and things to just make you happy.
An upcoming Wednesday night at BCCM we are going to do a night focused on the book and the website. It is going to be a lot of fun, and I encourage you to go buy, rent, or borrow the book!
This is one activity that encourages you to break out of your comfort zone and open your mind.
“Don’t Knock It ‘Til You Try It.
Most people would agree that the decision to dislike something before experiencing it is a total cop-out. And we’re all guilty of it, whether it’s avocados, country music, or even religion. But can you say with 100% conviction that you’re opposed to something if you haven’t actually tried it?
Step 1. Look up all the places in your city where people get themselves some God. And yes, we mean all—be it a mosque, church, synagogue, temple, yoga studio, or meditative drum circle.
Step 2. Map out a plan to visit these approaches to worship.
Step 3. Just walk in. (If you’re scared of the convert-or-else crowd, recruit a wingman.)
Step 4. Open your third eye and see what you find.”
-Found on page 137 of Soulpancake
Last year I took a Religious Quest class, and one of the requirements was to visit ten different churches that you had never been to before. At first I griped, because going to an unfamiliar place is hard, especially when it is an area of worship. Now that it is all said and done, I’ve decided that this was the best assignment I have ever received. It truly opened my eyes to how others worship and find God. It showed me to be more tolerant, and I encourage everyone to give it a try!
Challenge yourself and have fun!
BCCM Peer Minister
Recently, I had the privilege of having a good friend from high school come back to Montana to visit. My friend is part of the infantry in the Army and had recently returned to the U.S. from Afghanistan a couple weeks prior to his visit to Montana. Therefore, when he asked if he could stay at my place with my other two roommates, there was no doubt about saying ‘yes’. It had been a few years since we had talked, but I knew that the time was an irrelevant factor. Heck, we picked up our stories right where we left off. It was going to be a fun-filled week of hanging out like a few years back.
However, the thing that struck me most was the fact that my friend had been through a substantial volume of events to protect our lifestyles in the U.S. today. It was then that I realized that we have a lot to be thankful for in our society. My friend told me about a lot of the challenges he faced, along with the emotional toll it has taken on his 22 years of life. At times, conversations were difficult because his hearing has declined from countless hours of battle with Afghani rebels; so, my roommates and I would just have to repeat ourselves. Not a big deal; but to my friend, he thought that we would be aggravated by the repetition of conversation. To me, however, I had no problem because it was through the conversation that I learned to look at my own life worries with less anxiety and thank him for what he has sacrificed.
My friend said that he was the same way before going over to Afghanistan; but through his experience, he has a completely different outlook on trivial events. In the grand scheme of life in the U.S., we are free and protected. Therefore, we should be less concerned by the little nuisances that may bother us daily and focus on bigger things that we can control to make our community, nation, or even world a better place to live.
I didn’t expect to learn that much from my friend’s stay, but I knew that God was showing me how friendship truly is something extremely valuable. Even after not talking for more than 2 ½ years, I knew that my friend was somebody that I could trust and I am thankful for all that he has done to protect this country. Moreover, I am grateful for the challenge that he bestowed upon my roommates and I to always be doing something for a purpose, and to know that our purpose is meaningful.
It was not until I had this re-uniting that I realized how important friendship is to one’s spirituality. Even through time and distance, friendships can still remain. Thus, I feel very blessed now to have the friendships in my life, especially a friend like Eric, who is one of the greatest friends that God has given me.
I am a firm believer in not making New Year’s Resolutions! I believe in personal growth all year around!! Social construct has made New Years Resolutions into about weight loss and joining a gym and that you need to change!! Why do we need to change ourselves, let’s embrace ourselves! Last year I started a gratitude jar. Each time, or when I remembered, I would write down on a slip of paper what I was grateful for. I encouraged friends or family when they asked me about my jar in my house to add their own gratitudes and place them in my jar. It was a truly rewarding experience at New Years to see the things I and my friends and family were thankful for. I am trying this year every month to challenge myself in a new way after my success last year. Some of these challenges are personal and some are just a fun way to grow as an individual. I have ALWAYS been a terrible person to communicate a message through texts, email or letters I am an oral communicator. I have known this for the longest time and took the month of January to capitalize on this. I have just recently started to keep a diary. Go on and laugh because I sure did just writing it down right now. This is more than just a ”Dear Diary, A chipmunk asked me my name today, I told him it was Joe. That lie will haunt me forever”. This is a place for me to record inspirational quotes, movies to watch, books to read, websites to check out, cool keepsakes, places to go within this next year, things to learn, poetry (which I do write) but mostly a place where I can be truly honest with myself. I this sounds really lame, and I know it. I have always been a mentally strong person but sometimes it is nice to be vulnerable and truly honest with myself. In the start of this months challenge it started with a page in my book of I vow:
I vow to not write everyday but when I have something valuable to say.
I vow to write what I truly I am worried, troubled, stressed, anxious or questioning
I vow to be honest with myself and my struggles I am going through.
I vow to be fair with myself and uplifting at the end of each writing
But mostly I vow to grow in a true and open way and expressed within these pages shared with only myself.
After each entry I list things that I am. So this can be giving, appeal seeking, searching for companionship in all forms, always searching for God. I believe that each of us are growing and questioning each day of our lives and it never stops. So why not hold myself accountable for my own growth each day or month in this case. I strongly believe that we control our own future. So next time you see me ask me how my monthly challenges are going. I like to be held accountable so I will be relying on you my BCCM family and friends to help me!
Until next time,
Here are my monthly challenges (subject to change
Jan. Start a diary
Feb. Pray everyday in a new way and record my prayers in my diary
March Take a picture a day!!
April Celebrate my last month of college!! spending time with close friends and let them know how they have impacted my college experience
May Eat clean and hit the gym EVERYDAY! Prepare for pilgrimage!
June Embrace every moment of SPAIN!!
November Write down why I am a spoiled 1st class person
December Clean out my house and donate what I do not use!!
Welcome Back Everyone!
The Bears just started their second week of classes whereas the YellowJackets start their classes on Wednesday (the 14th) – Slackers. And as expect for first semester of the New Year it’s GO GO GO GO and GO!
Mark your calendar down for an IMPORTANT DATE. The Bishop will be coming to our BCCM group Wednesday January 29th. So come one come all to meet and greet with the Bishop!
As for the rest of the year we have every night booked at Off the Leaf – hurray! So unless we decided to change venues most of our Wednesday night groups will be held at our usual closed off room at Off the Leaf on Grand. So bring a friend, bring a smile and an empty stomach.
We hope to make this semester one full of memories, laughter, growth and happiness. Realizing that this will be my last semester working with BCCM as a Peer Minister for RMC brings me both happiness and sadness.
I have made SO many memories and wonderful friends while serving with BCCM the past four years. Seeing it grow from a brand new group my freshman year to where and what it is now puts the biggest smile on my face. BCCM is such a wonderful group of inspiring sweet people; the best Billings has to offer. I am so excited to see where this next semester, my last semester, will take us! I have big plans. Watch and see where it takes us all!
-Ali Sapa (RMC)
I have been blessed to have had such an amazing summer this year. I spent two weeks on an adventure to Europe to travel with a friend who is based on the Ramstein Air Base in Germany. We travelled to different places in Germany, to Paris, and to Rome. It was an amazing experience and I encourage everyone to travel. It was a little nerve-wracking at first thinking we would be alone in our travels, and it did take a large toll on my bank account! (YIKES!!) But as I said earlier totally worth it!!
My favorite part of the trip was definitely Rome. I had always dreamed about visiting the Vatican City, the home of the Sisteen Chapel and St. Peter’s church. I was not let down by the experience. Rome was absolutely beautiful. As I saw St. Peter’s church in the distance I was so excited, and the closer we got the more excited I became! We had to stand in line to get through security for about an hour in the hot sun. When we finally reached the entrance to St. Peter’s church we were first turned away because we were dressed for summer, and your shoulders and legs had to both be covered. But I managed to get in by borrowing a shirt.
It was absolutely breath taking. It was bigger than I expected and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I said a couple prayers and blessed myself with holy water. I felt absolutely wonderful being there and could truly feel God around me. I experienced as much as I can, but I did not get to see it all. I cannot wait to go back, and I definitely will return. (I threw a coin in the Trevi fountain, so I have to!) J
I encourage all to travel. It is always fun! Rome was amazing, being of Catholic faith or not. It is an amazing city, and I shall return. (Hopefully this summer to join Ali and Quincy on their pilgrimage on the Camino. )
Katie and I in Paris.
For one of our upcoming events, we will be looking at some of the different styles of churches. I feel that it is important for others, who are looking for a church, to find a church that they may feel comfortable in. Therefore, this night (October 9th), we will be looking at the different styles of churches of primarily Christian denomination. After which, we will have a discussion on what we liked or disliked about certain aspects of each church presented.
When I first saw a similar representation of the evening that we have planned, some aspects of churches seemed pretty neat. For example, some churches have huge recreational activities (i.e. sport courts, rock walls, theaters, etc.) and a lot of activities that members can become involved in. There seemed to be a strong sense of community developed by this church. However, I feel like parts of this style took away from the traditional approach of a mass/sermon and almost seemed to bribe people to come to their church.
I found this article online that I think helps illustrate some of the different draws/strengths of churches out there and some statistics about congregations within the United States. This article is from Hartford Institute for Religion Research: http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#growyouth
I feel this article does a pretty good job of providing information about how congregations are doing to draw youth to certain faiths.