Students abstain to seek penance

Unlike the Christmas season, Lent is a time of repentance for those who are followers of the Christian faith. During this time, students across campus abstain from various foods, activities or certain acts to honor the season of Lent, which began on March 5 and ends on April 19, Holy Saturday.

Lasting for forty days after Ash Wednesday, excluding Sundays, to commemorate the resurrection of Christ, Lent is seen as a time of preparation for Easter. During the season, self-examination, soul-searching, repentance, self-denial, prayer and fasting is often practiced by believers in Christ. Forty days are symbolic in the Bible as discipline and devotion and are mentioned multiple times, such as the forty days that Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and pray after he was baptized.

In deciding what to give up for Lent, many students find themselves choosing the things they thought they could not live without.

“”I’m giving up caffeine for Lent,”” said Revelle College junior James Holk. “”It’s significant for me because it requires me to stop and be much more deliberate about how I choose my drink, which carries over into my food, which carries over into my spending.””

For others, a lifestyle change comes about from practicing Lent.

“”I didn’t even really give up anything like sweets, candy, soda or TV. Instead, I’m giving up apathy. I’m giving up not being joyous for God. If anything, I guess you could say I am giving up Satan,”” said John Muir College freshman Noah Kepner.

Lent proves to be a challenging process, because some students find themselves not being able to last the entire forty days without breaking their abstinena. Some things may sound simple to give up, but when they are such a normal part of one’s life can be difficult.

“”One of my interns was supposed to give up wearing sandals because I think he just likes wearing sandals. He wears sandals every day. In fact, I don’t think I recall him ever wearing real shoes. I think it’s to the point where he probably feels wrong if he didn’t wear sandals. So he ended up not following through with it,”” said Warren College senior Yoko Igawa.

While Lent is a religious practice, students like Revelle freshman Jennifer Lee is seeing it as more as a personal spiritual growth. She said, “”I am not giving stuff up for Lent because a religion tells me to. I am doing it to humble myself before Easter. I think what you give up should be something you really love or love to do, because it makes you realize how much Jesus gave up for us at the cross. That is why I gave up AIM and online shopping. Also, every time you realize you can’t have something, it serves as a constant reminder of your intentions.””

Other students choose to practice abstinence from something only when they feel compelled to, not necessarily because of Lent.

“”As a Christian, I live by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, rather than observed traditions and holidays to tell me what I should do in my daily life, and fasting is one of those areas,”” said Muir junior Stephen Wu.

At the end of forty days, many are surprised at the changes they discover in themselves and their growth as a person.

“”I gave up white flour, rice and all kinds of desserts. It was really hard because flour is in everything. But it taught me how powerful God is and how he can answer our prayers. And when I was finally able to eat ice cream, it really did not even taste that good,”” said Sixth College freshman Emily DeRoos, who completed a 40 day fast prior to Lent.

So, whether it be addictive food, pesky habits or everyday activities, sacrifices for Lent are teaching students self-control as well as self-realization, while they prepare for the Holy Week before Easter.