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Website helps millions explore faith

Lent offers us an opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and to deepen our commitment to a way of life. Lent also provides an opportunity to reflect upon patterns, pray more deeply, experience sorrow for what we have done and failed to do and be generous toward those in need.

Creighton University has an online resource to assist people during Lent, which starts Wednesday. The Praying Lent website offers preparation advice from Lent’s beginning to celebrating the holy three days after Lent.

The Online Ministry’s website, started in 1998 by The Rev. Andy Alexander, director of Creighton's Collaborative Ministry Office, and Maureen Waldron, its associate director, has surged in popularity since the site began in 1998. In 2015, there were 40 million website hits from 208 countries – a 26 percent increase over the previous year. The popularity of the Praying Lent portion of the site has played a large role in the increase in website visitors.

“Our website was originally designed to be a Lenten exercise for the Creighton campus,” Alexander said. “Now, it has grown into a virtual gathering place for Christians around the globe. Numerous Catholic and Protestant churches have borrowed website materials for members to use.”

Praying Lent is so popular that Loyola Press, a Jesuit publishing house in Chicago, turned it into a book and sent copies to Catholic parishes across the United States.

“I think Praying Lent continues to attract people because people are hungry and because this Ignation approach to spirituality fits people,” Alexander said. “It isn't always easy to bring spirituality into the middle of a very busy family life and that’s what this site does.”

Praying Lent also offers a link to the readings of the day, brief meditation, link to the Daily Reflection for that day and Intercessions from the Liturgy of the Hours. Each daily prayer concludes with a spontaneous prayer Alexander and Waldron composed.

“We imagine that some will have the time and desire to use all of the resources here, while others may only have time for the resources and the Daily Reflections,” Alexander said. “We encourage people to visit the Site Index to see what is available and what will be added throughout Lent.”

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Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.