Young people can make Lent full of joyful hope

By Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

I’m sitting down to write this column shortly after attending the funeral of Bailey Lauret, a 24-year-old son of our diocese who was serving as a FOCUS missionary in Memphis, Tennessee. He died suddenly as a result of a pulmonary embolism. The funeral was a profound moment for me as I prayed with hundreds of others, many of whom traveled from around the country to be there, in order to enter into, or rather celebrate, the death of Bailey.

Many reading this may have encountered Bailey through his service at D-Camps in the summer, as he served around the diocese as a Totus Tuus missionary, or maybe as he discerned the priesthood as a seminarian. Anyone who met Bailey would be able to immediately identify him for the “life” that he had. But where did he find this life? How could Bailey live his life so abundantly and with so much joy?

Having gotten to know Bailey and being able to walk with him through a summer of Totus Tuus, I can attest that Bailey was so full of life because he found his life in Christ. Our Catholic faith tells us that by losing our life, we will find life.

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

In a sense, during this season of Lent we are called to suffer and die as well. Why? So we can truly live!

During Lent we are given an incredible opportunity to enter into the suffering of Jesus Christ. It is one of the most profound and intimate ways we can be with Christ and follow Him in discipleship. I wanted to offer a few ideas specifically for young adults on how you might enter more deeply into this Lenten season.

For young people, at this point in your life your vocation is to be a student, a son/daughter, a friend, etc. Consider ways you can “suffer” in order to live out your vocation better during this Lent. Maybe this means giving up technology with the intent of being more present to your parents. Consider staying home on a Friday night and instead spending time with your younger siblings. Perhaps you could commit to going to bed earlier so you can be more present at school or commit to not griping about your teachers or professors. All of these examples are ways of “suffering” in order that you can “live” more present in the life that God has called you to.

It is also important to consider how you will pray during Lent. For a high school student, it can be incredibly challenging to find some extra time in your day, but there is time. Maybe it’s waking up 15 minutes earlier each day or finding an hour each week to go pray at your church. Also, consider ways you can give up certain things in order to make room for others. I love listening to podcasts when I’m in the car, but during Lent I’ve grown to appreciate just spending time in silent prayer.

As you prepare for Lent, start looking around at the options available to you (ask your pastor or church leader for ideas) and “suffer” something in your life in order to gain the growth and life that will come from it.

The week of Bailey’s passing and his funeral was no doubt incredibly challenging and sorrowful for me and for so many. But, what seemed so right and good to me in being at Bailey’s funeral was I experienced a taste of the life that is gained through death. It was incredibly profound to see so many who had been affected and changed by Bailey’s witness of a life in Jesus Christ. Those who knew Bailey knew Christ through him. Bailey spent his days striving to “die,” striving to enter into the life of Christ so that he might truly gain life, the gift of eternity with God.

During this time of Lent, let us rejoice through suffering with a joyful hope and anticipation of the life that is to come.

Eric Gallagher is the director of Youth Discipleship and Evangelization for the Diocese of Sioux Falls.