For Catholics, the approaching liturgical season of Lent is a time to reflect on ways to abandon certain habits or adopt spiritual practices to prepare for Easter. For some female students on campus, a sort of early Lent has already begun with the Fiat 90 challenge.
The Fiat 90 challenge takes place during the 90 days leading up to Easter and focuses on building Marian virtues such as purity and piety. Through a series of specific disciplines, challengers seek to build a robust spiritual life and draw closer to Jesus through Mary.
The disciplines include a wide range of activities focused on the health of mind, body and soul. The challenge suggests engaging in things like attending daily Mass and frequent confessions, daily prayer, constant exercise and sleep, and even traditional Lenten practices of ditching social media and desserts. .
This concept is not new to the Church as there are other similar challenges like Exodus 90 or Nineveh 90. The main issue that Catholic women raise an eyebrow at is that they tend to target men because they are strongly associated with strict discipline. and ascetic practices.
Fiat 90, however, taps into Marian devotion and “feminine genius” as Pope John Paul II coined it in his 1995 “Letter to Women”.
The name is not only a reference to the “fiat” of Mary, or yes to God, but it is also an acronym which stands for Faith, Integrity, Responsibility and Truth. Thus, through faith, integrity, responsibility and truth, those who rise to the challenge can begin to grow in virtue and Marian devotion.
At UD, a group of about 30 women started the challenge on January 17 and they continue to meet once a week for check-in.
While the average Lent can feel heavy and endless, Fiat 90 and other similar community challenges reveal a weakness in how we live our discipleship lives: how often we forget the need for fellowship.
A participating student, freshman Anna Sobczak, said, “The benefit of doing it with a community is that you know you are not alone in this desire to dedicate yourself to God.
“Every time you see another member, you know their fight, [you] feel more connected to them. You’re with these girls for the long haul, 90 days is way longer than the week or two New Year’s resolutions we all make at the start of the year.
“If you really want to get stronger, physically, mentally or spiritually, there is no better resource than Fiat  to help you reach your goals and keep them for life.
New Year’s and Lenten resolutions can often seem impossible without accountability. One thing Spiritual Challenges recognize is that human beings are social creatures, so having a friend text you to do your daily prayers or get enough sleep is much more helpful than trying to do it all on your own. .
Another Fiat 90-building freshman, Alice Forget, added: “I received such comfort and consolation from [this community] who previously appeared to me as perfect and nice girls. It was so strange to hear struggles resonating in my heart because of another person’s state of life.
“It’s been so healthy to be able to speak so openly [about] my weakness and growing with this incredible group of women. I keep telling myself that if those seniors who have competitions this weekend can wake up at 6 a.m. three times a week, there’s no excuse I can’t.
The benefits that Sobczak and Forget derived from their participation in Fiat 90 testify to the greater need for humanity to participate in brotherhood. Indeed, no man – or woman – is an island.