Lenten Greetings from Saint John's Seminary
Dear Friends,
This is the second in a series of emails you will receive from Saint John's Seminary, wishing you a blessed Lent and Easter season. It is our aim to provide valuable Lenten resources for our constituents, as well as a glimpse into how our seminarians - your future parish priests - celebrate this most Holy season. We invite you to include the seminarians here at Saint John's in your Lenten observances over the remainder of these forty days by praying for them, fasting with them, and incorporating them into your almsgiving with a gift of support towards their formation and education.

It may seem strange at first thought, but I believe that a joyful spirit is crucial to the Lenten journey. Jesus told his disciples, “Whenever you fast, do not look gloomy…” (Matthew 6:16). Lent is indeed a time to express sorrow for our sinfulness, but it is also a time to rejoice in God’s merciful and saving action on our behalf through His Son, Jesus Christ. The prayers and scriptures of the Church make this very clear. Last Sunday, on the Third Sunday of Lent, the reading at Lauds was from the prophet Nehemiah (8:9-10): “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened, for  rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength! ” The First Preface of Lent in the Roman Missal articulates the spirit of the Lenten season and speaks the following words to God: “For by your gracious gift each year your faithful await the sacred paschal feasts  with the joy of minds made pure , so that, more eagerly intent on prayer and on the works of charity, and participating in the mysteries by which they have been reborn, they may be led to the fullness of grace that you bestow on your sons and daughters.”

Along with our extra prayers and our almsgiving, fasting is more than giving up something; it gives us the opportunity to focus more on the mysteries by which we are reborn in Christ – the greatest gift of God and one in which we rejoice! The Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, will begin a more intensive focus on preparation to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, and it opens with the exhortation, “Rejoice Jerusalem!”

May our Lenten observance rely on the renewal God is working in us all - making us aware of our need for conversion and repentance, and more importantly directing our attention towards greater union with his Son, and motivating us toward greater love and concern for our neighbor.

Wishing you God's blessing and peace,
Rev. Stephen E. Salocks '80
Interim Rector, Saint John's Seminary

PS: Brother Nathan Marzonie, a candidate for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, generously agreed in the spirit of this Lenten season to share his family's recipe for Vosbabour , or Armenian Lentil Soup, with us. Each Wednesday and Friday during Lent, we eat a simple lunch of bread and soup while we pray in silence - and Lentil is one of the community favorites! We hope you will enjoy Br. Nathan's spin on it, below.
Br. Nathan Marzonie, OMV's Family Recipe
for Vosbabour (Armenian Lentil Soup)

Br. Nathan says:
There are numerous variations on lentil soup in the Middle East. This is a fairly typical vegan version used by Christians during the Lenten fast. It is often eaten with bread or rice; sometimes rice is cooked in the soup, but most purists cook it separately. This recipe makes a large pot (~ 8 cups) of soup.
You will need:
  • ~ 5 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 bulb garlic, minced
  • ½ green pepper, minced (optional)
  • 3-6 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 lb. (~ 3 cups) brown lentils (most common, but any variety will do)
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 tsp. Salt 
  • 1 tsp. Turmeric
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp. Cumin 
  • 1-3 tsp. Cayenne pepper
To Make: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the minced onions and garlic. Add green pepper (see below), carrots, lentils, water, and spices. Bring soup to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes. 

He Also Notes: this recipe can be adapted to taste very easily. It is traditionally spicy, but can be made without the pepper and different spices such as curry, ginger, or cloves can be used to vary the flavor. Green pepper adds a distinctively bitter note common in Middle Eastern dishes, but it can be omitted. Using more carrot and onion will make a sweeter soup. Cooking the lentils for close to an hour makes a thicker, heartier soup. For a thinner soup, add an extra cup of water and keep the pot covered.

Our Seminarians on Fasting
" J ust remember not to bite off more than you can chew, and increase as Lent progresses. 

Also, don’t get discouraged if you have a misstep. God understands."

-Colin McNabb, 2nd Theology, studying for the Archdiocese of Boston
"I carry the words of Pope Francis with me: 'Fast from grudges and be reconciled.'"

- Alwin Joseph Chinnappan, 2nd Theology, studying for the Diocese of Kumbakonam, India
"I try to think about the worldly things that are not bad in themselves, but that I might be doing in excess. Three things immediately come to mind for me: watching sports, social media and dessert. During this Lent, I will fast from these three things that I enjoy so that I can make more room for prayer, spiritual reading and adoration of our Lord."

-Bobby LeBlanc, 2nd Theology, studying for the Archdiocese of Boston
In the Words of Pope Francis
Here at SJS we do change our eating habits during Lent, but fasting doesn't have to be all about abstinence from food. It's a mindset, too - a purposeful shift in consciousness from thinking inwardly to thinking first of others. Here are more suggestions from Pope Francis:
Don't Forget
Visit  to meet the very seminarians who pray for you each day! Each week a new class will be featured, along with more photos and videos of our observances here at SJS. See the men who were featured Week 1 ( PreTheo I & II) , Week 2 ( 1st & 2nd Theology) , Week 3 ( RMS & ESL ), and Week 4 ( OMV, FPO, OSB, AA, OFM Cap ) by clicking the links.
We invite you to incorporate the seminarians into your Lenten almsgiving by making a gift linked symbolically to the 40 days of Lent. Popular amounts in the past have been $2/day, $5/day, or $25/day, to join our Leadership Circle - or simply choose what feels right for you.
Scenes from SJS by Marcelo Ferrari '24, Archdiocese of Boston; all other images courtesy of George Martell