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“In like a lion, out like a lamb.” This well-known proverb signals the beginning of March and the anticipated change of season. For those of us in the cold climates, we welcome thoughts of warmer weather, longer days filled with sunshine, and the sweet smells of spring. Although the weather during March is still unpredictable, Christians can depend on the solemn anticipation of one of our most important church seasons: Lent. The word "Lent" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "lencten," meaning "spring." Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and service in preparation for Easter.

Prayer is an integral part of our school day in which we focus on special intentions and various aspects of the liturgical year. The Stations of the Cross are a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man. At each station, we meditate and pray on a specific event from Christ’s last day, commonly known as Good Friday. Holy Family Church in Auburn has the most beautiful stations that detail each event with emotion and reverence. We look forward to following the way of the cross and reliving the path of the Lord to his final hours. Every Friday during Lent, Catholics are invited and encouraged to join with their fellow parishioners to pray together the powerful Catholic prayer and devotion at noon and 7 p.m. St. Mary’s Church will host on March 8; Sacred Heart March 15; St. Alphonsus March 22; St. Francis March 29; Holy Family April 5; and St. Hyacinth (noon only) and SS. Peter & Paul (7 p.m. only) on April 12. Sharing this experience together helps us to stay diligent on our path and sends a powerful message and show of faith.

During the Lenten season, we also focus on sacrifice and fasting. Each day, the children have the opportunity to socialize and snack. We have decided to limit our snack to a modest and healthy choice of crackers, fruits or veggies, and water. Fasting should not be solely in the form of food. It should also focus on fasting from all those things that distract us from God. Everything from electronics, disobedience, anger, resentment, etc. During these 40 days, we examine our lives in an effort to be merciful, just like our Father. Through prayer, silence and penance, we can seek opportunities to forgive, be better versions of ourselves, and shine God’s light.

The beauty of good literature can also teach valuable lessons. The children are currently studying the book "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson. We pay special attention to the various characters and the vices and virtues they display. Take, for example, Jim Hawkins, a young teen boy, who narrates the story and is extremely eager to go out to sea and hunt for hidden treasure. Jim is a good and protective son, who consistently displays courage and heroism while remaining very humble and never boasting. Dr. Livesey acts with wisdom, bravery and loyalty. He thinks his plans through, without letting his emotions lead his actions. He wisely plots to trick the pirates, not to rashly attack them, and risk lives unnecessarily. He is the only one brave enough to stand up to Long John Silver, the frightful one-legged leader of the pirates. Dr. Livesey is loyal to the men who are loyal to him. He uses his gifts and training as a doctor to treat their illnesses and injuries the best he can. The iconic pirate, Long John Silver, is brave in spite of his physical limitations. He compels the reader to like him at first. However, as you read on, Silver’s greed is highlighted. Please join us for the JPII production of "Treasure Island" at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, at the school.

The Holy Spirit directs our path and has recently sent us a new friend, ElderChoice's Choices for Change. Choices for Change is a social day program that services people with traumatic brain injuries and other health ailments in an effort to provide fun activities and improve their quality of life. Last month, we made our first visit and enjoyed making slime, playing pool, playing cards, etc. with the clients. We are grateful for the opportunity to share an entertaining experience and look forward to spending more time together. Thank you to Scott and Victoria for your hospitality and friendship.

“The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve — to give his life in ransom for the many.” — Mark 10:45

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Jennifer T. Furnia is principal at St. John Paul II Academy and the mother of two boys at the school. For more information, or to schedule a visit, visit jp2la.org, call (315) 252-4393, email furniajp2@gmail.com or write to St. John Paul II Academy, 6201 Center St., Cayuga, NY 13034 or P.O. Box 1318, Auburn, NY 13021.

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