By MIKE VULPO     3/19/2024

Like many Catholics, Fr. Aristotle Quan has used the weeks before Easter Sunday to give something up for Lent.

But after saying goodbye to treats like chocolate or frozen Otter Pops for 40 days, the parochial vicar at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point, discovered something new about his journey.

“Every year, I would give something up, but I was literally the same person,” he said. “Nothing changed. Yah, maybe I lost a few pounds because I wasn’t eating chocolate anymore. But you don’t have to give up something. People need to see that God has so much more in store for them other than the traditional, ‘I’m just going to
do this every year.’ We have to really check if this is what God wants for us.”


This year, Fr. Aristotle is reading St. Paul’s letters and focusing on quiet prayer. He’s also trying to fast from food until 5 p.m. two days a week.

“I love food, but He wanted me to feel the hunger,” Fr. Aristotle explained. “It allows me to really understand that we don’t live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

As Easter Sunday approaches, several Catholics were asked to share how they’re getting closer to God during this season of Lent. Through prayer, fasting and giving alms, Fr. Aristotle believes this time can be transformational.

“We’re called to have a heart change,” he explained. “We really have to pray about what God wants for us and I think that will make our Lent so much more powerful.”

Santa Clara De Asís lead cantor

“Prayerfully, I’m asking God, ‘Grant me the grace to do less so that He can do more!’ I routinely go off Instagram and social media during penitential seasons and as someone that is highly addicted to noise, I am omitting all secular podcasts and most music if it is secular. I am refining my desire to be in silence and to appreciate the times I can be with the Lord in the quiet vs. filling up the quiet spaces with noise. It’s been a very insightful and peaceful Lent thus far. I’m grateful for the increase of prayer time, silence and peace God is bringing me as I enter into the desert alongside Him.”

St. Serra Catholic School third grader

“I decided to give up McDonald’s for Lent. I usually have it 3-4 times a week for an afternoon snack, so this is a big sacrifice for me. Jesus was fasting in the desert for 40 days before he died for our sins. If he could die on the cross for us to go to heaven, then I can stop eating French fries. I am using the money that I don’t spend each week and putting it in my rice bowl and donating it to an orphanage in Haiti to help children. Jesus wants us to help the poor and sick. All the money I am saving is going to help so many people that have nothing.”

St. Edward the Confessor parishioner

“This Lenten Season, I’m walking one mile every day to prepare myself to receive the graces of Easter. This intentional time for reflection, prayer and simply being grateful for my blessings has turned out to be a much better fit for me than my traditional practice of giving something up. My daily mile has added a wonderful new dimension to my spiritual growth. I feel like I’ve rediscovered a wonderful connection with Jesus. I honestly feel the Lord right there with me as I walk, think pray and rejoice in his love. My intentional ‘mile a day’ has encouraged me to make time, refocus and visit with the Lord in my own personal way and has definitely energized my spiritual journey.”

Damien Catholic High School senior, attends San Francisco Solano Catholic Church
“I’ve decided to participate in what’s called an Exodus or Exodus 90 for Lent. It includes both adding prayer to my everyday life and giving up unnecessary things such as sweets, electronic device usage, warm showers and secular music. I am doing this with a group of young men whom we hold each other accountable. It’s definitely a challenge but doing this makes more time for God and it helps me appreciate what I have more. As Easter is approaching, I feel that I am really stepping into the desert with Jesus. I feel a deeper appreciation for what Jesus did for us dying on the cross. I also feel accomplished and proud of myself, proving to myself that I can do something I thought would be too hard for me.”

St. Edward the Confessor parishioner

“Lent is my favorite time of year. My mom is the reason for this inspiration as she always made this time of year special, and I enjoyed spending the extra time at church services with her and my dad. I enjoy attending daily Mass at least three times during the week. This year, because of Matthew Kelly’s [a motivational Catholic speaker] inspiration and focus on the Eucharist, it is a perfect connection and I also added Eucharistic adoration at least once a week.”