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Students fast from sweets during Lent

Layton Dudley

Sophomore Abbey Wildzunas gave up sweets, including cupcakes, for the 40 days of Lent. CW | Layton Dudley

Katie Bedrich

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In the traditional observance of Lent, Christian believers usually give up certain luxuries for 40 days to signify the sacrifices Jesus made according to the events of the New Testament. Different denominations include customs of prayer and penance.

“To me, Lent is a time to become closer to God and become closer with my faith and really try and get to a place where I’m prepared to understand the sacrifice that was made for me,” said Julianna Betbeze, a senior majoring in international studies.

Betbeze, a Roman Catholic, is abstaining from eating anything with added sugar, including most processed foods.

“It’s intense ingredient reading,” she said. “I eat tons of fruit and vegetables and a lot of protein.”

Betbeze said the change has been difficult but that it is fulfilling its purpose of helping her understand the true meaning of Lent and religious sacrifice.

“I wanted to give up something where I knew I would need God even more than I already do,” she said. “I knew I would have to pray every morning and ask for strength and patience to try to get through the day without sugar.”

Abbey Wildzunas, a sophomore majoring in food and nutrition and a Methodist, gave up sweets for the 40 days. She said generally people assume Lent is an excuse to eat healthier, but for her, sweets are a real sacrifice.

“It’s stuff that I really want, and [sweets] really are my favorite thing to eat,” she said. “I don’t think I’d crave an apple if I gave up apples.”

John Clary, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, is a Roman Catholic who attends Saint Francis Church, a popular choice among Catholic students. He said he stopped giving things up for Lent about three years ago, when he decided that luxuries like candy and desserts don’t really warrant a true sacrifice. He said instead of giving something up, he practices extra prayers like reciting decades of the Rosary.

“It’s 10 scripted prayers every night,” he said. “On the Rosary, you start out on the cross and you say a prayer for each bead and make your way around the 40 beads on the chain. Each of the four segments is called a decade – I pray one decade every night.”

Clary said he feels like many Christians forget about doing something extra during Lent. He said his extra prayers are helping him make God a bigger part of his daily life, which is more significant for him than going without something for 40 days.

“I’m trying to make daily living a prayer just by living more for God,” he said. “Hopefully if I do this for long enough it will start to spill over into my daily interactions and that’s how it will change me for the better.”

Many Christians also take part in meatless Fridays as a part of observing Lent. Clary and Betbeze said they eat things like fish, eggs and cheese pizzas to replace meat once a week until Easter. They said that some churches choose to host fish frys or shrimp boils on Fridays, and Fresh Food Company has served fried fish on most Fridays of the semester.

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Students fast from sweets during Lent