CU site provides guidance during Lent
March 4, 2006
World-Herald Staff Writer

Many Christians wear the smudge of black ash on the forehead, attend midweek church services and give up things such as caffeine or chocolate during the Lenten season.

But how else should they observe the season?

Creighton University, as part of its online ministry, has created a series of Web pages called "Praying Lent." The site offers resources for everything from a recipe for beans and rice to ideas for how to make Lent more meaningful for children.

"We wanted to have a place where people could go for some kind of daily prayer during Lent," said the Rev. Andy Alexander, a Jesuit priest who is vice president for university ministry at Creighton. "We wanted to give people a number of resources: how to get started, how to prepare, how to help children, what does fasting and abstinence mean."

Creighton's online ministry began in 1998, but the "Praying Lent" section is an example of its constant evolution. The ministry began as something just for the university. Faculty and staff were asked to each take a day writing a reflection on a daily scripture reading. Next came an online retreat. The "Praying Lent" pages have been one of the more recent additions.

"Lent is such a rich season, and it seemed that people were so hungry for the daily reflection and other resources we had, we thought maybe we can do something concrete," Alexander said. "We wrote one piece and then another piece and then another piece."
Maureen McCann Waldron, who collaborated with Alexander on the project, said: "It's like a house we started with one room, and it has become this giant, wandering mansion."

Though initially designed for Creighton, the Web site has a global audience. It receives 1.4 million hits a month from 125 countries around the world. People living as far away as Saudi Arabia and as close as rural Nebraska use the site.

The resources are designed to be concrete and practical. The site focuses on everything from spring cleaning to working on your marriage during Lent.

It offers daily prayers, meditations and reflections. One especially popular feature has been a guide about the Stations of the Cross.
Waldron, associate director of Creighton University's collaborative ministry office, said the site is designed for busy people.

"At the time we put this together, I was thinking about someone just like me," she said. "I'm married. I have kids. I know it isn't always easy to bring spirituality into the middle of a very busy family life. We wanted to give people the tools that I found I needed."