Giving reason to the lenten season

Christians around the world mark the beginning of Lent with the celebration of Ash Wednesday that follows into the Lenten season. Every year the question lingers, “What should I give up for lent” among Catholics. Some give up things that help improve their dieting purposes rather than making spiritual sacrifices.  The motto of those sugar sacrificing people might as well be “Skinny for God!” Typically, it turns out children, teens, and adults give up soda or chocolate for 40 days, but in the past few years, a new trend is surfacing. “Adding something” has been the new approach to the old Lenten tradition.

According to TIME magazine, Pope Francis said, “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” Pope Francis is asking us to reconsider the heart and meaning of this activity of giving things up.

Catholics are beginning to act upon Pope Francis’ words and pursue the new fad of living the Lenten season through your love and actions.  Volunteering, donating, or even participating in small acts of kindness seem to be a few common actions to partake in during the Lenten season.

Mrs. Cheryl Heise, Health and PE teacher, decided to take a stand and add something opposed to giving something up. “I am giving up meat the entire lent season, and I donate one clothing item out of my closet every day to Goodwill,” Heise said. She added that she is approaching lent this way to be aware of “more mindful eating and to give to the less fortunate while trying to simplify.”

Another sacrifice is the concept of time. “The purpose of this sacrifice was to give time in prayer instead of wasting it on TV or some other useless activity,” said art teacher Mr. Willy Corbett. “The prayer has made me think more deeply about the real meaning of Christ.”

Not only have teachers joined the movement but so have students. Senior Emily Mentzel decided against giving up something and turned to working on herself as a person. “I chose to do this because of what Father Dave stated in his homily during an all school mass. It is easy to give up sweets or social media but a lot more difficult to make a difference in our lives and other people’s lives,” Mentzel said.

In addition to priests like Father Dave that include the importance of lent in their homilies, the Dynamic Catholic has created a movement titled “Best Lent Ever.” The objective of this project is to encourage Catholics to go on a 40-day spiritual journey and make a difference. Along with this challenge, each day an email is sent to you including a video, reflection, prayer and the email challenges you to some sort of action. Librarian Mrs. Anne Jones pledged to take on this challenge. “I signed up for the program and found that I really enjoyed the format.  The messages and the challenges presented are practical and relatable,” Jones said. “We all need to be challenged in order to grow, and so I really try take something from each reflection and apply it to my daily life.”

Traditionally, observers participated in Lent by abstaining from certain types of food (particularly meat, eggs, and milk products).  In some traditions, partial fasts took place where participants would eat only one meal on certain days.  Many who observe Lent today are not as strict.  Often these individuals choose to abstain from a particular food or particular behavior such as watching TV during Lent.  The idea is to abstain from pleasurable activities and instead use the time and energy usually spent in those activities to focus on one’s own spiritual condition and repenting for spiritual failures. As time changes the traditions follow the change. How can you take this Lenten challenge in your own hands and make a difference?

Senior Emily Mentzel holds the door open for Mrs. Jill Cheek to fulfill her act of kindness for her Lenten commitment. Mentzel chose to make a difference in others lives by participating in small acts of kindness opposed to giving up sweets.

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