The True Spirit of Lent Is Lost

Written by Claire Booher
Megaphone Staff Writer

Last Wednesday marked two very important and very different celebrations.

For Christians, it was Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season.

For “Christians,” it marked the first day of their diet.

Traditionally Lent is meant to remember the 40 days and 40 nights that Jesus spent fasting in the desert in preparation for making the ultimate sacrifice for mankind.

Ritualistically, these 40 days and 40 nights are to be remembered by making a personal sacrifice.

For Catholics, this means denying themselves meat on Fridays (hence the Lenten fish menu that pops up at Sonic this time of year).

Many people make use of the self-sacrifice menu this time of year in order to remember the sufferings their body has done over the holidays.

As an individual who was afflicted with Catholic school from kindergarten through eighth grade, my sacrifices have varied from year to year.

I was told to give up something that was an indulgence; something that would remind me of the suffering Jesus had to endure in the desert. So in fourth grade I gave up cracking my knuckles, in second grade I told myself that I was not going to get detention during recess, in eighth grade I gave up cursing and, in general, if I could not think of anything better, I gave up sweets.

Because I am sure when Jesus Christ was fasting in the desert, waiting for the horrible fate that was soon to happen to him, he truly missed cracking his knuckles, recess, cursing and sweets.

Two of my roommates attempted to give up Facebook for Lent. They lasted three hours before I saw them both on their computers, shrugging their shoulders.

The general phrase uttered through the Lenten season is “oh no, I forgot,” which is then closely followed by a “oh well, who cares.”

When going around campus and asking people what they were giving up for Lent, the common items were fast food, sugar or “nothing, what the hell is Lent?”

The meaning of this remembrance, along with many other Christian celebrations, is severely overlooked.

For instance, many people celebrate Valentine’s Day, the day Saint Valentine was fed to the Roman lions for not denouncing his faith. We celebrate this with candy, hearts and flowers and, as a Catholic, with the always entertaining question of “So do like Catholics worship saints or something?”

In 2002’s “40 Days and 40 Nights,” a movie starring the bushing-eyed actor Josh Hartnet, presented the story of a young man who decides to give up sex for Lent. The main character then meets the girl of his dreams and, of course, can’t tell her he has given up sex for Lent and, of course, has no idea that, according to the Lenten calendar, Sundays are not added up in the 40 days and nights for whatever indulgence you have given up, because then there would be no horrible movie.

While this movie may have had some hilarious sex jokes, it actually does point out how to do Lent the right way.

Jesus went into the desert to rid himself of the temptation to run away from his fate. This is why during Lent you give something up that you find tempting. As tempting as sweets are, looking for an excuse to put down your fork doesn’t really equal sacrifice.

Try giving up something you feel that you cannot live without out. What if the entire campus decided to give up coffee for Lent? Not only would we understand the sacrifice but we would be the most irritable campus in the United States.

If you don’t feel strongly about Lent, don’t give anything up – God will not smite you, I promise.

If you need an excuse to lose weight, just stand on a scale.

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