The Lenten season kicked off with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 18. Traditionally on this day, people attend church masses to receive ashes in the sign of the cross on their forehead. Here at APU, ashes were offered during Wednesday chapels so that students could participate in the observance.
Lent is a period of 40 days beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday that encourages the sacrifice of something with the intention of gaining something else — usually, more time spent with God.
Junior English major Eric Dong is an evangelical Christian who does not practice Lent within his denomination, but has taken up the sacrificial season for the past three years since coming to APU.
“In the busyness of my life, there sometimes is not room for me to practically and systematically set apart time to [be] devout and practice my faith,” Dong said. “So I practice Lent because it gives me an excuse almost to show my faith outwardly.”
Sophomore AnaMaria Padro, a Spanish and allied health major, expressed that she practices Lent because it is part of her Catholic tradition.
“Personally, I really appreciate this time of deep reflection in which I put aside time to look at how much I am reflecting Christ to his people. I want to show others how important his great sacrifice was to me and how it has opened the gates of heaven for us to enter and share in his eternal glory,” Padro said.
Most people take the time during Lent and use it to fast, withdrawing from physical habits or specific foods until Easter. People also use this period to commit to doing good deeds and giving back to charity.
“I decided to give up meat because it is something so integral in my everyday life,” Dong said. “Giving it up will have me make the conscious decision to abstain from it, therefore making the choice to [be] devout myself to Christ further.”
Padro, who has been practicing the season of Lent since grade school, is not only giving up sweets during this time, but she is taking up something.
“I am also challenging myself to go to daily Mass at least twice a week because I need to spend that extra time with my God, it is also a sacrifice of sleep,” Padro said.
There are a variety of ways to practice Lent in order to show deep commitment to God.
Junior business management major Rhiannon Tylutki grew up Catholic, which has helped her practice Lent for many years. She believes that what is important during this short season is remembering its purpose.
“I think it’s important to be aware of it. You don’t necessarily have to practice as in giving something up or taking something up, because those things can really play into your pride,” Tylutki said. “It can turn really negative really fast, because you don’t know where your motivation is coming from.”
By acknowledging the time of Lent, individuals refrain from certain practices that are not related to God yet strongly attract them. By keeping themselves from something that they do or consume often, they are able to reflect on their faith and renew their relationship with God.