As Easter approaches, people of the Christian religion, along with various religions within, prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by practicing Lent. For 40 days, worshippers participate in Lent to recall Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice before his death.
During this period of reflection, many decide to abstain from something that would be considered a challenge for them to live without. For example, chocoholics may vow to refrain from eating candy bars for the next 40 days. The church calls this act of abstinence “fasting.”
Although fasting appears to be the most popular way to partake in Lent, there are other methods as well. Fasting is a method of self-sacrifice, while the two other techniques include the act of doing.
Some people are taking part in extra prayer, attending daily mass or saying the rosary during the Lenten season.
Another way to practice Lent is psalms giving. This may include volunteer acts at places like soup kitchens where people deposit their spare change to donate to the less fortunate.
Even displaying random acts of kindness, such as offering someone a lending hand or relaying compliments to strangers, can be considered psalms giving.
Acts within these three categories are meant to be performed without calling attention to oneself. Alex Iadipaolo, campus minister at John Paul II Catholic Newman Center, said that Lent is supposed to be more personal rather than publicized so that Christians can feel more of a connection with the Lord and the religion.
“Some people say, ‘I’m going to do it just to show that I can do it,’” Iadipaolo said.
“If you’re uniting it with Jesus, that’s the significance of Lent.”
He said that although one’s Lenten acts may be noticed by others, they are not meant to be advertised in order to make the practice more significant and fulfilling.
“Maybe people know about it, but you’re not sounding the trumpet,” Iadipaolo said.
In addition to personal sacrifices, Lent also includes sacrifices within the community.
Each Friday during the 40 days, those practicing Lent refrain from eating meat.
There are also community acts of prayer. Some worshippers attend the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent to mediate on specific moments leading up to Jesus’ death.
Iadipaolo said, “The time of Lent is that recalling of how much Jesus loved us, and then we can show how much we loved him back and also how much we love our brothers and sisters.”
Iadipaolo hopes college students of all backgrounds and beliefs not only recognize the exterior gestures of Lent, but also understand the true meaning of the practice.
“Sometimes as Catholics we could get used to going through the motions. I think I would invite college students to ask and kind of learn a little bit more about the deeper meaning of why we do things,” Iadipaolo said.