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A Lenten Crash Course

Adrianna Alvarez

What is Lent?  It’s pretty obvious when it starts – one can’t help but notice a bunch of people who walk around one day a year with ashes on their forehead. However, what’s the real meaning of Lent? And why is it necessary for me to give something up?

There’s more to it than just giving something up to prove your love to God.

Lent begins 40 days before Easter.  The number 40 holds a lot of meaning within the bible and the practicing of Lent.  Forty represents the number of years the Israelites spent in exile and represents the number of days that Jesus spent in the desert.  Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent.  On Ash Wednesday, observant Catholics attend church and receive ashes on their forehead.

Many people seem to misinterpret the reason as to why the ashes are worn on their forehead.  Some think it’s to pronounce their holiness.  The real reason is to acknowledge that we sin and are in need of repentance and renewal.  Ash Wednesday is a way of reminding us that we are not perfect, we’ve made mistakes and should be thankful for the sacrifices that have been made for us.

Part of Lent is being able to get through 40 days by either giving something up, or working on something that will improve yourself.  You are supposed to make some type of change that will allow you to connect with the suffering Jesus experienced while in the desert. Mary McCabe, a Sophomore Information Management and Technology major, is going to work on improving herself during Lent. “I will read a passage from the bible each night before going to bed. If I read a passage from the bible, I feel I learn more about how I should live my life and hopefully it will be a habit I will continue,’ she said.

McCabe recalled when she was little, she would indulge in what she had given up and once the 40 days were over.  She expressed how she hadn’t really learned anything from this experience until she became older.

Newman Club vice president Sally-Ann Gaughan, a Junior Early Childhood Education major, said she is still unsure what she will be doing for Lent, but will eventually decide following prayer and meditation. She admitted that she would most likely work on improving herself.

“Lent is about dying and becoming new, about second chances,” she said. “This is the time to truly concentrate on myself, and to start over in the part of me that needs changing for the better, so I may live a fuller life.”

Newman Club president Erik Raessler, a Junior Physics major, talked about his plans for Lent as well. “I’m giving up my choice to choose to do wrong,” he said.  I’m doing this because it is every person’s right to be treated as the human they are.”

Raessler also spoke about repenting and making your way back down the right path when you have gone astray. The more you observe Lent, the more you see your faith grow.  When you are young perhaps you give up candy, soda, video games or television.  Throughout lent you find yourself cheating or giving up.  As you become older, lent becomes more important.

“As a kid, I would give up candy or ice cream, but give in halfway through Lent. Now it’s much more spiritual since I’ve developed a deeper faith life,” Raessler said.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22.  Masses will be held that day in the Interfaith Chapel at 12:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

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