weather icon Partly Cloudy

Creating lasting change: Lent season of reflection

Paulette McDonald, 58, is a St. Andrew’s parishioner in Boulder City, and a lifelong Catholic. For her and others, the religious season of Lent and its 40 days leading up to Easter are an opportunity for self-transformation. And, it has nothing to do with giving up chocolate.

Like many born-and-raised Catholics, she recalls a childhood Lenten routine that included morning Mass and the renunciation of chocolate and candy.

“As I got more involved for myself in the Catholic faith, rather than with my parents, I started to understand and learn it wasn’t about giving up. It was about change. About changing myself for the good, and not having it end on Easter,” she says.

McDonald says she’s used Lent to expand her prayer life, participating in a prayer group that practices lectio divina. According to McDonald, participants listen to scripture, journaling on the words that touch them, as a way to receive guidance for making change. She’s participated in the practice for 13 years.

This Lenten season, she’s using the practice to better her relationships with family, church family and the community. It’s also helping her through the grieving process, after her father’s death in October.

The Lenten retreat is also a contemplative option at St. Andrew’s. Sister Janet Ackerman will lead a preached retreat — the St. Andrew Catholic Community Parish Lenten retreat, Friday night and Saturday. She’ll cover everything from healing personal hurts to doing outreach that sometimes touches the ugly underbelly of Las Vegas life — as in the case of Nevadans for the Common Good, an interfaith group that Ackerman says has addressed sex trafficking.

Such retreats weren’t always built deftly into Catholic parish life, she acknowledges. But people are becoming more aware.

“The giving up of candy is for kids,” she says. “And we have to choose not to remain children all of our lives. Just as our body grows, so must our spirit grow.”

Some parishioners are stymied during Lent, either because they set goals that aren’t attainable, or aren’t concrete enough, according to the Rev. Bob Stoeckig, pastor of St. Andrew’s.

He says he challenges people to get specific. “People will say generic things like, ‘Well, I’ll pray more this Lent.’ Well, what does that mean? Does it mean I’ve been praying five minutes a day so I’m going to 10? Or does it mean, I haven’t been praying at all, so I’m going to set a goal for three minutes a day?” In making it concrete, he says, parishioners realize that goals are achievable and measurable.

Stoeckig does his share of redirecting — at times, he says, encouraging people to “experience the mercy and forgiveness of God, who calls us to get up again and start on the path when we’ve fallen.”

His parishioners have taken up exertions as simple as giving up all-day-running cable news that offers only one view of the world. Others volunteer, challenging themselves to step out of their comfort zones, whether that means participating in Boulder City’s emergency aid program, or bringing food to those who need it.

More people, he says, also take advantage of St. Andrew’s outdoor Labyrinth, a spiraling meditation path and problem-solving tool based on sacred geometry, which offers another way to pray.

Some Episcopalians make a Lenten practice of helping a neighbor, in addition to taking on special service projects at places such as Friends in the Desert at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Henderson, according to the Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada. They also do prayer practices, meditations and study programs.

Edwards describes Lent as the imitation of what Jesus did in the desert for 40 days after his baptism — and the continuation of a tradition initiated by the first generation of Christians, who prepared for baptism through 40 days of spiritual practice and study. It’s also an opportunity, he says, to “do what in 12-step programs they call ‘taking our inventory.’”

Appropriately, Stoeckig says, the root of the word “Lent” comes from a word for “spring.”

“I would call it a spiritual springtime,” he says, adding that Lent is a time to “focus on the parts that have become dry, or the parts that maybe need to be pruned in our lives, so that new life can emerge.”

The Rev. Dennis Hutson, pastor of Advent United Methodist Church, stresses that Lent doesn’t belong only to Catholicism. It’s also a Protestant tradition among liturgical denominations that acknowledge the Christian calendar.

And, for those who grew up as he did, the “fad” of giving up something for Lent isn’t a good fit, he says. “You don’t usually feel too compelled to give up eating a meal. Because there would have been times in your life when you had to go without a meal, not out of choice.”

Instead, he encourages people to focus on being of service to God and others, to get their hearts “right,” and to cleanse themselves of unhealthy habits — all with a strong emphasis on prayer. His church has encouraged members to serve as hosts for approximately eight or nine home prayer groups around the valley.

Other denominations don’t broach the topic of Lent at all, officially. According to Neal Creecy, pastor of growth and development at Shadow Hills Church, a Southern Baptist church: “Typically, Baptists are not as ritualistic as other denominations. So it’s not something that we normally practice on a regular basis.” But, “there’s nothing necessarily that we’re opposed to with Lent, as far as, we think it’s a wonderful thing to have a time of reflection and a time of fasting and preparation for the celebration of Easter.”

Some of his church members and even some staff are practicing it, he adds.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shock program rids your pool of yellow algae

If your pool water has gone from clear to yellow, you probably have yellow algae. The pool store will have chemicals to treat the water. When used with super-chlorination, products such as Yellow Out will kill yellow algae.