Many see Lent as chance to purge

By Pat Deringer

Many students have been dieting, tanning or giving up a night out with friends for a few hours at the gym to prepare for Spring Break.

Though these sacrifices lead to sculpted, tanned bodies for the break, other students are making withdrawals for an annual season of sacrifice distant from the crowded beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

In the Roman Catholic Church, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and spans 40 days until Holy Saturday, excluding Sundays. This year that period is from Feb. 6 through March 20.

The Lenten season gives Christians an opportunity to imitate Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for 40 days, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Pre-veterinary senior Brad Mitchell, is challenging himself to give up meat, something he would normally never go without.

“I wanted to give up something I knew was part of my everyday life,” Mitchell said. “It has been a big challenge so far and I’m sure it will continue to be.”

Laura Speer, a kinesiology junior, said she was raised Catholic and has been participating in Lent her entire life. In past years, she has given up coffee, chocolate and swearing. But this season’s Lent is different, she said, because she’s sacrificing to help someone else rather than to test herself.

“I’m giving up sweets and sodas like my boyfriend this year to help him along during his first time participating in Lent,” Speer said.

People who observe the Lenten season are mainly members of various Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and Anglican denominations, and members the of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

However, the most common trends in sacrifice are often more than a religious effort. Many people participate to try to improve their personal diet and lifestyle decisions.

“I’ve decided not to eat out anymore during Lent,” said psychology junior Jessica Combs. “Hopefully doing this will save me a lot more money and allow me to make healthier decisions.”

Lent can be a good reason for people to purge their bad habits, said Ana Clegg, a journalism senior, but they should be able to do that without the excuse of Lent. She has not participated in Lent since her sophomore year.

“I believe it’s a good discipline, but I don’t agree with the fact that it’s only for a certain time period during a certain part of the year,” said Clegg, who is a photographer for the Kernel. “I think if people want to give up something, then they should, but it shouldn’t just be during Lent.”