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Our souls during lent

As lent season awaits us, many Christians are prepared to begin practices such as fasting, self-denial, repentance, and spiritual discipline. Here, Marcellina Benissan shares what lent means to her, the practices she partakes in and how they reflect in her spiritual wellbeing.

Marcellina (Marci) Benissan grew up in a Christian household in Togo. She is deeply inspired by the examples her mom set for her and her siblings in participating in lent season

“I think lent is set up for us to practice virtue, to become what we are called to do, to become holy,” Marci shared.  

Through her church and the observance of her mom’s faith, Marci participates in three acts leading to holiness: fasting, praying and almsgiving.  


During lent, many Christians fast, “refraining from eating to honor Christ’ sacrifice of his flesh for us.” 

However, for Marci, it’s a practice she applies to her life throughout the year. She’d fast the first three days of each month. 

“I do this to submit each month to the Lord; my kids, my husband, my job and the people I’ll meet in the upcoming weeks, I put it all in the Lord’s hand,” she shared. 

“Fasting isn’t about food, it is a way to hold oneself from anything that leads us to sin, and doing this is one way we get closer to the Lord,” she continued. 


Praying is another important aspect for Marci during lent.  

“I should practice prayer not only when I want to or at a scheduled time. During lent it is especially important that I speak to God throughout the day,” she said.  

“It doesn’t have to be a designated space for me to pray in, you can consistently pray in your heart and the Lord will hear you,” she continued.  

We pray for many things, and many times it’s usually about ourselves. Marci believes that it’s important to pray for others more than for ourselves. 


“When we think about alms or donating, it’s not always about money. “You can donate your time, do volunteer work, or dedicate yourself to comforting someone who’s grieving.” 

Growing up in Togo, one way Marci and her family would give back was through hospital visitations and bringing food to the patients.

And they do this throughout the year, but it was one of the main components to fulfill during lent season.

Growing up, Marci shared that the church would have a special devotional for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and at the end of the devotion there would be a self-assessment survey.  

“The survey would have questions like; ‘how often you did fast,’ how many times did you give,’ and just the good deeds you’ve done in general,” she shared.  

“I didn’t like participating in this because I don’t want people to know, but when I was in my 20’s I realized it’s a way of keeping me accountable,” she said.

“Looking back, this practice shaped me to be a better person even without the requirement of the self-assessment surveys now.”

Preparing for lent

Weeks prior to lent, Marci looks back on her life and makes notes of areas she can improve on to bring her closer to God and to be more Christ-like. 

“Suppose I’ve been gossiping, that’d be an area I work on during lent through fasting and prayers,” she shared.  

Marci also finds ways for her whole family to partake in something together.  

“I save up my kids’ gently used clothes and buy new ones, and we’d send them back home to Togo for the families who doesn’t have much.” Marci shared.  

Blessing others with small acts

One other way Marci partakes in lent, as well as encouraging her kids and others to participate, is by saving and giving while fasting.  

“During lent, you could give up on snacks and put aside the money you’d have spent to buy that snack,” she shared.  

“I’d pray about it too, for the Lord to open my eyes to see who could use this money. At the end of lent, I’d give the money saved to someone in need.” 

This act altogether requires fasting, donating and praying.  

“To wrap this up, I just want to reemphasize that 

lent is about being holy.” 

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Kler Soe is the Communications Specialist at World Relief Quad Cities. She joined the team after graduating from St. Ambrose University in May of 2023 with a degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communication. As a refugee herself, she hopes to bring awareness to World Relief’s work through stories. 

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