For Catholics, the approaching liturgical season of Lent serves as a time to consider ways to give up certain habits or take up spiritual practices to prepare for Easter. For some female students on campus, a type of early Lent has already started 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, challenge-takers seek to build a robust spiritual life and become closer to Jesus through Mary.
The disciplines include a wide range of activities targeted towards the health of one’s mind, body and soul. The challenge suggests committing to things like attending daily Mass and frequent confession, daily prayer, consistent exercise and sleep and even traditional Lenten-like practices of giving up social media and desserts.
This concept is not new to the Church as other challenges exist that are similar, like Exodus 90 or Nineveh 90. The main issue that Catholic women raise an eyebrow at is that they tend to be targeted towards men since they are heavily associated with strict discipline and ascetic practices.
Fiat 90, however, taps into Marian devotion and the “feminine genius” as St. Pope John Paul II coined it in his 1995 “Letter to Women.”
The name is not only a reference to Mary’s “fiat,” or yes to God, but it’s also an acronym that means Faith, Integrity, Accountability and Truth. Hence, through faith, integrity, accountability and truth, those who take up the challenge can begin to grow in virtue and Marian devotion.
At UD, a group of about 30 women began the challenge on January 17, and they continue to meet once a week for a check-in.
While the average Lent can seem burdensome and never-ending, Fiat 90 and other similar community challenges expose a weakness in how we live our lives as disciples: how often we forget the need for fellowship.
One student who is participating, freshman Anna Sobczak, said: “The benefit of doing it with a community is that you know you’re not alone in this desire to devote yourself to God.
“Every time you see another member you know their struggle, [you] feel more connected to them. You are in it with these girls for the long run, 90 days is a lot longer than the week or two New Years’ resolutions we all make at the beginning of the year.
“If you truly desire to get stronger, physically, mentally, or spiritually, there’s no better resource than Fiat  to actually help you achieve your goals and keep them for life.”
Resolutions around New Years’ and Lent can often feel impossible without accountability. One thing that spiritual challenges recognize is that human beings are social creatures, so having a friend text you to do your daily prayer or to get a good amount of sleep is a lot more helpful than trying to do it all on your own.
Another freshman student doing Fiat 90, Alice Forget, added: “I have received such comfort and consolation from [this community] who had before appeared to me as perfect, nice girls. It was so odd to hear struggles that resounded to my core from another person’s state of life.
“It has been so healthy to be able to speak so openly [about] my weakness and grow together with this group of amazing women. I keep telling myself that if these seniors who have comps this weekend can wake up at 6 three times a week then there is no excuse that I can’t do it.”
The benefits that both Sobczak and Forget have experienced from participating in Fiat 90 speak to the greater need for humanity to participate in fellowship. Indeed, no man — or woman — is an island.