No carbs, sweets, fast food, fried food, alcohol, snacking, keep this, none of that.
These are common resolutions made during the Lenten season. Some treat Lent like a diet and make resolutions with the aim of simply losing weight but there is true importance, meaning, history and tradition to the Catholic Lenten season.
“Lent celebrates the 40 days which Jesus was in the desert and was tempted by sin,” sophomore Joe Parry explained. “Lent is the season that the Catholic Church helps you get ready to celebrate Easter.”
Junior Student Minister and Christian Life Community (CLC) leader Lexie Schierman said if someone is motivated to grow closer to Jesus in this season, it’s a good time to explore and “try build your relationship with God.”
“I think that there is a spiritual implication behind Lent that sometimes gets lost and should not,” she said.
Meredith Melendez, a GU sophomore, said she comes from a Catholic family but is not personally religious. She said her parents encourage her to take part in Lent as a way to challenge and focus on herself. Melendez said she gave up desserts and already feels healthier. She explained that she believes if you better yourself you are more adept to help others.
“I think the really cool thing about Lent is that it can be so broadly interpreted and the fact someone who is not religious can get something out of Lent,” Parry said.
He thinks that there is a lot of validity in someone who is not truly religious participating in Lent as a way to better themselves.
Fasting is a traditional way that many people participate in Lent. Doing so out of a sense of needing forgiveness allows one to show love and make sacrifices, explained Father Brad Reynolds, associate director of University Ministry and Chaplain of Dussault. “I think that there is a time of understanding amongst a lot of people that Lent has to be a time of self-sacrifice and so we give things up, but I think that it is much more than that.”
Parry explained that fasting during Lent is not about the act itself, but it is about what you are thinking about while completing it.
“[It is about being] aware that there are sacrifices in life and to trying to think about the sacrifices that God and Jesus make for us. It is a small reminder that can show me what He did for me,” he said.
Reynolds explained that Lent is a time for reparation and preparation. He said that it is a time to reunite with God and prepare for the coming feast of Easter through fasting, Alms giving and prayer.
“Honestly, I don’t think it matters what you do as long as you do something, it is 40 days of being more conscious of God and Him being in your life,” said Fr. Reynolds.
Schierman said she was working on building her relationship with God this Lenten season by breaking a bad spiritual habit. When she has bad thoughts or is worried about something that is beyond her control she has begun to immediately pray instead.
“I have already noticed a difference, I hope to grow closer to Him in the sense of being more intentional and praying more intentionally,” she said.
Ash Wednesday is the start of the Lenten season. Mass that day is marked by the priest or Eucharistic ministers putting ashes on attendees’ foreheads in the sign of the cross while saying “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Lent lasts the following days through Easter.
When Easter arrives this year on April 1, Christians will celebrate the belief that they will be resurrected again.
“Easter is the fullness of the Christian Faith,” Reynolds said.
This year Ash Wednesday fell on Feb. 14. The last time that Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine’s Day was in 1945. Reynolds said he decided to express God’s love to someone else every day by going out of his way to be kind, generous and loving. He also wants to pay a little extra attention to how God’s love is shown toward him. He advised this as a Lent resolution to students during Mass this year as well.
“You don’t have to be Catholic to practice Lent, you just have to have a desire to grow closer to God,” said Fr. Reynolds. “If you haven’t started a resolution this Lenten season it is not to late to begin. It is an experience, the sooner that you start experiencing God’s closeness the better off you are going to be.”
Kaely Lawler is a staff writer.