Students abstain in observation of Lent

CW Staff

For the observers of Lent, Wednesday marked the beginning of the 40-day fast.

For Christians, Lent is the 40 days, not counting Sundays, during which something of personal importance is sacrificed in preparation for holy week, which will come to an end on Easter.

Susan Nelms, campus minister for the St. Francis University Parish, said Lent is a time of reflection and “a time to do something spiritual and remind ourselves that we are sinful and need to strive to do better in our lives.”

More people attend the Ash Wednesday services at St. Francis than do any other service out of the year, Nelms said.

She said her favorite part about Lent is listening to the students talk about what they are giving up and how their own experiences are going.

“They are all very devout and sincere about it,” Nelms said.

Nelms said about 2,800 students on campus identify as Catholic.

But other students who participate in Lent, however, are not Catholic. Many Lutherans, Methodists and other protestant churches also observe the custom.

“I chose to give up smoking because it is something I can’t do under my own power,” said Austin Haskew, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering. “It is only through leaning on his strength that I will be able to make this work.”

For some students, Lent is a time to focus on God and to put him before their own personal desires.

“The point of giving up something for Lent is to draw you closer to God…I plan to grow my relationship with him by allowing him to carry me through it.” Haskew said.

Traditionally Lent is observed by eating only one meal a day and abstaining from all meat on Fridays except for fish or eggs. Sundays are considered to be breaks from the fast.

Some students, even though they do not observe Lent themselves, said they have a very strong respect for those students who choose to participate in the tradition.

“I’m not Catholic,” said Cody Roberts, a freshman majoring in chemical and biological engineering, “but I admire people who do it. It would probably be a good thing for me to do.”

Roberts, who is Baptist, said he was raised to see Lent as a time to devote time to God and that you gave up something so that anytime you thought about what you were giving up you would pray or think about God instead.

During a time when there are so many distractions and people are so busy Lent reminds them to focus, Nelms said.

“Don’t do good just for the sake of doing good. Be aware of the fact that you need to pay more attention to what’s really important,” Nelms said.