We asked 40 western Oregon Catholics to reflect on the meaning of Lent in 40 words or fewer.


Lent in our family is a time to remember the life and death of Our Lord on the cross. It is a time of penance as an act of reflection and prayer, especially for those most in need and suffering.

— Yadi Acevedo, Sacred Heart in Medford




“Repent and believe the good news.” During Lent I plan to remember this exhortation daily as I read “Fratelli Tutti.” The good news is that “we need one another” (Pope Francis) and “belong to one another” (Mother Teresa).

— Trudie Atkinson, St. Thomas More in Eugene


Lent is a time to reset my spiritual life. Instead of giving up the usual, I tend to focus on adding something positive. Some examples would be saying a daily rosary, attending a weekday Mass, or attending Friday Stations of the Cross.

— Ena Bezley, St. Birgitta in Linnton


I look toward Easter. Do my choices reflect the baptismal promises that I’ll be asked to renew? How am I being challenged to adjust the way I live so that my life better reflects those promises? Prayer. Growth. Transformation.

— Valerie Chapman, St. John the Baptist in Milwaukie

I spend extra time reflecting on God’s grace, generosity and creation. Lent is time for me to slow down and mediate on God’s love, a time for me to go out of my way to pass along God’s love.

— Gordon Dick, Queen of Peace in Salem

At adoration, the Lord put the following on my heart: When I look at all the fasting, suffering and sacrificing Jesus willingly did for his bride, the church, I know I have to do the same for my bride, Cathy.

— Bill Diss, Holy Rosary in Northeast Portland


We know God is always knocking at the door of our hearts, but most of us are too darn busy or distracted to really listen. Lent allows us to pay attention to the sweet sounds and whispers of Our Lord.

— Britt Dwyer, St. Mary, Our Lady of the Dunes in Florence

Lent awakens me to two realities, that I am a broken sinner, but also a beloved son of God. Fasting, praying and almsgiving keep me in the fight to get ready to feast with him, talk with him and receive him.

— Deacon Jésus Espinoza, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Aloha


As a child Lent was a time for repentance, prayer, fasting. Vatican II answered “Why?” It invites me to return to my baptism, to my original love: God’s love for me, my love for God in the risen Jesus.

— Therese Fenzl, The Madeleine in Northeast Portland


I use Lent daily as a time of self-denial, as well as trying to do an act of kindness and extra time in prayer. I use it as a time to upset my normal daily routine, to prepare for Easter.

— Jim Flerchinger, St. John in Welches


I decide to give something up that I love to eat, ice cream. It may sound like nothing, but I usually eat it every night. I also pray each day through the year for people, and during Lent I say extra daily prayers.

— Pat Galioto, St. Catherine of Siena in Veneta

Lent is a time of penance, an invitation to reflect and repent. It’s a season of atonement and conversion. Since sins separate us from God, Lent invites us to live with Christian attitudes that help us grow more like Christ.

— Fr. José Gonzalez, St. Anne in Gresham

Lent carries us from muddy chill to incredible new life in springtime forests and orchards. My favorite daily Lenten practice is 20 minutes of silent prayer outdoors, rain or shine. Christ slowly brings life from the dirt of the earth.

— Ellen Grush, Our Lady of the Mountain in Ashland


Lent for me is a time of eager longing, an opportunity to create better habits, striving to become the child God envisions me to be. With prayer and focus, I can journey with Jesus to the true celebration of Easter.

— Elizabeth Hamilton, St. John Fisher in Southwest Portland

Life is a journey. Lent is about giving in to God’s will, not sacrificing. The Lord says, “I desire compassion and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). Lent is a call to repentance, remembering the cross of Christ. I share his cross.

— Lisa Hoffman, St. Anthony in Waldport


Lent, for me, is a time of reflection on and preparation for Christ’s Passion, death and Resurrection. I see it as a time for meditation and spiritual reading to help me be more aware of God’s love for us.

— Rose Anne Horning, St. John the Apostle in Reedsport

Lent is time to reexamine faith practices that nourish me spiritually. It’s a time for focus on self-discipline and a heightened awareness of offering sacrifices of time, energy and money up to deepen my understanding of and love for God.

— Therese Kent, Holy Trinity in Bandon


Lent is a time to pause and be fully present in each moment, for yourself and others. It’s a time to be grateful and appreciative for all your blessings. It’s a time to let Christ’s light shine brightly.

— Lillian Kidwell, St. Clare in Portland

I remember giving up a certain word for Lent. My children would ask when I’d use it again and laugh. Lent is a conscious decision to be better than we were. It is to do something for Our Lord.

— Barbara McCarthy, St. John the Baptist in Milwaukie

Lent for me is a much-needed time to reset my focus and strengthen my relationship with Christ through increased reflection, prayer, repentance, action and thankfulness. It is a time I am re-reminded of the extent of God’s perfect love.

– Elizabeth Millager, St. Wenceslaus Parish in Scappoose

The word “sacrifice” reminds me of all Jesus did for us. The horrible way God chose to show and demonstrate to us how much he loves us; that immeasurable love that becomes present to us just by looking at the cross.

— Deacon José Montoya, St. Peter in Newberg

I always look forward to the Lenten season because it helps us slow down, take stock of our lives, walk with Jesus and enter into his Passion, then joyfully celebrate his Resurrection and our salvation on Easter Sunday.

— Susan Morrison, Sacred Heart in Newport


Lent is the saddest and happiest period of the year. Jesus went through his Passion to redeem us of our sins and resurrected up to heaven. At the Last Supper he shared his body and his blood.

Priscilla San Nicolas Muna, St. Joseph in Salem


Lent reminds us of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice through the paschal mystery. It is a time when we can reflect on our past wrongdoings and seek reconciliation. Through this, we can change and prepare ourselves for the second coming of Christ.

— Anthony Nguyen, Our Lady of La Vang in Happy Valley


During Lent, we remember that we are all sinful and easily tempted. This season reminds us to make sacrifices and set good habits. Jesus died on the cross to save us all; let’s try to live up to that.

—Tu Linh Nguyen, Our Lady of La Vang in Happy Valley



Lent is a time for me to look inward, to focus now on acts of doing for others rather than on my list of self-denials. My opportunity to be the hands, feet and light of Jesus here in North Portland.

— Jana Ripley, Holy Cross in North Portland



Beginning in winter and ending in spring, Lent invites me to quiet myself, to contemplate the wonder of my Creator and mercy of my Redeemer. Wednesday’s ashes confirm my mortality. Easter’s life-giving baptismal water affirms my eternal salvation.

— Kathy Sabel, St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Southwest Portland



Lent, the preparing for the celebration of the risen Lord, the Lamb who died for us, the Easter people, is a cleansing, a clearing of our souls of debris that may hinder us from fully entering into union with him.

— Dick Safranski, Holy Redeemer in North Portland

Every Lent I give up music. My life becomes more quiet and I use that silence to pray to God and to listen to him. My relationship with him always grows stronger.

— Kelsey Sánchez, Sacred Heart in Medford


Lent is the penitential season for repentance and returning to Christ through increasing our prayer time, fasting and abstinence. It is through this process that we reconnect to our spiritual self and recognize our sins.

— Magdalena Santiago, St. Cecilia in Beaverton 

I like to use the time of Lent to reflect, review and renew my Catholic spiritual journey in preparation for Easter.

— Don Schantz, St. Henry in Gresham

Lent is the time of preparation when we practice putting down the crosses we drag through life day after day (gluttony, selfishness, etc.) and journey to meet Christ at his cross, the only one worth carrying. Ave crux, spes unica.

— Chris Shine, St. Andrew in Northeast Portland

Want an incredible Easter? Then observe Lent well. Important events in our life, like Easter, take preparation. That’s what Lent is for — show up! Desire to encounter and he will come. He is not a God who hides from us.

— Betty Sledge, St. Philip Parish in Dallas


Lent is my favorite season of the year. No one else says that! Yes, it’s painful, but through spiritual exercise, I come closer to God and feel excellent, transforming into the man God designs.

— Nicola Sušec, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Cottage Grove


Lent is reflection on abundant blessings of Christ. Penance and fasting help us focus on sacrifices Christ made for our salvation. I increase my own prayers and sacrifices. It is a time of hope for Christ’s reward of eternal salvation.

— Pamela Thompson, Sacred Heart in Newport




Lent is lifesaving, edifying, nourishing and transformative. During these 40 days we are encouraged to stop and listen to God’s word, fast from negative things and people, take part in traditional devotions, and grow into a new creation.

— St. Mary of Oregon Sr. Juanita Villarreal, St. Alexander in Cornelius


Rather than giving up something for Lent, I am giving back more time, dedicated as well as spontaneous, to Jesus and asking the Holy Spirit to open my heart to hear my Lord speaking to me.

— Peggy Wallace, St. Michael the Archangel in Sandy

Lent is a time of spiritual renewal, rather than just a time of deprivation, a time for drawing closer and listening to God and finding ways to deepen my relationship with Christ.

— Mike Welter, St. Edward in Keizer


In this season of grace, I ponder two of Jesus’ questions: Who do you say that I am? Do you realize what I have done for you? Each time, the answers call me to deeper conversion and less self-centeredness.

— Paul Westby, St. Rose of Lima in Northeast Portland

Lent means everything. Having life — that means God created you, you became something. We must be thankful for that.

— Giovanna Zanotto, Immaculate Conception in Stayton