Katie McKeeman promised her mom she would give up sweets for Lent. Beginning last Wednesday, things like cookies, candy and chocolate were kicked out of her diet.
“I have tried to give up gum and soda or different things like that,” said McKeeman, a freshman sports medicine major. “I couldn’t do Girl Scout cookies. It was just too hard.”
Lent is the symbolic representation of the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, where he fasted and prayed. It is said that he resisted temptation by the devil during this time, was spoken to by angels and then began his ministry in Galilee, a region of Israel.
Catholics are among the traditional Christians who sacrifice something for Lent, but others in the faith observe it as well, including non-Christians.
The Rev. Lawrence Christensen of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, encourages his congregation to give as well as sacrifice during this time.
“Through sacrifice, prayer and alms giving, we remember and reflect on this time,” Christensen said. “I encourage all people to take part in some way.”
Alms giving is an act in which Catholics will save their pocket change, typically nickels and dimes, in a round cardboard container and bring those savings to church on the last Sunday of Lent, also known as Palm Sunday. The church will give the funds received to Catholic relief or other charitable organizations in the community.
“It is up to the individual what they choose to give or sacrifice. Some give up movies, some choose not to have a drink or even smoking. Some do positive things like visit a person in the hospital, call a person you have not talked to in a while or volunteer at a soup kitchen,” Christensen said.
Danielle Lohman, a freshman social work major, chose to give up Facebook, the popular networking Web site.
“It is hard because it is something you check when you’re bored,” Lohman said. “I have so much more time for other things. You don’t realize how much time you are on Facebook until you give it up.”
Although Lohman is not a Catholic, she uses Lent as a justification to exercise self-control in her life.
“You have to have self-control but you also need support from others,” she said. “Because you forget, ‘Oh crap I just drank a soda.'”
Brian Crawford, a sophomore recreation and tourism major, has been a Catholic his entire life. He is giving up gum and junk food this year.
“I love gum. I go through a pack a day. We can be thankful for what Jesus did back in the day by giving up the little things we can,” Crawford said. “Jesus is our Savior and God is our center. We give up stuff that is taking away from that center.”
For Christians, Lent is also an act of remembering Jesus’ history.
“We sacrifice, because (Jesus) sacrificed by being nailed to the cross,” Christensen said. “It brings you closer to the Lord as well as helping another person.”
Lohman said it is beneficial to her relationship with God and Lent perpetuates this mindset.
“I have learned how trivial Facebook is. It’s all about ‘Let’s look at a person’s pictures for 40 minutes or let’s Facebook-stalk this person,'” Lohman said.
Easter morning signifies the resurrection of Jesus from the dead after being crucified. It also commences the season of Lent.
McKeeman said she will hold true to her promise, but by Easter morning she plans to indulge.
“I will fall back into my old ways,” McKeeman said. “I will probably gain 50 million pounds on Easter.”
Staff writer Emily Lance can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.