What’s the lowdown on Lent?

By Chloe Nott

You may have heard of people giving up meat or social media for Lent recently. However, do you know what Lent really is and why giving up something is considered beneficial?

The Lenten season is a Christian tradition mostly observed by Catholics today. This time is traditionally spent fasting and reflecting on both one’s own life and the life of Jesus Christ. The purpose of Lent is to strengthen one’s faith as a believer and develop a closer relationship with God.

The word Lent originates from an Old English word meaning ‘lengthen’. This referred to the lengthening of days that occurs during the spring time.

Lent is a 40 day period leading up to Easter. In Western Christianity, Lent begins seven Wednesdays before Easter, on Ash Wednesday. Sunday’s are not included in the 40 days. The significance of the number of days relates to the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness resisting temptation. The number 40 is an important number in the Bible, being a recurring reference to time throughout the Old and New Testaments.

In the Roman Catholic church, fasting is considered obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, this consists of one meal a day plus two smaller meals for adults between 18-59 years of age. In addition, meat is not to be eaten on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent for those aged 14 years and older. Self-imposed fasting is also recommended for all weekdays during the Lenten season.

QU Professor Matthew Bates noted the importance of acting from the heart if choosing to give something up or change something in your life for Lent. The aim of doing this is to resist temptation and help focus and reflect on Jesus.

Today, instead of fasting, many people often opt to give up a certain food or bad habit. Since 2009, Twitter has analyzed what people say they’re abstaining from during Lent. Alcohol, meat, chocolate, social networking, and coffee were among some of the top things people gave up last year.

Kelly McClure, QU student, has decided to take part in Lent this year. For her, Lent is an opportunity to take time to reflect on God’s love and how sacrificing things can bring us closer to what’s important.

“I gave up soda as a symbolic sacrifice to remember the sacrifice that God made for us by sending His son to die on the cross,” McClure said.

This year QU students, faculty, and staff have been receiving daily Lenten Reflection emails from Father John Doctor. These messages include stories, prayers, and questions to ponder and reflect on. Fr. Doctor also extends an invitation for everyone to take part in Lent by making a change in their life, regardless of their faith.

The Way of the Cross is one traditional event taking place on campus this year. These prayer services take place in front of Willer Hall at 7 p.m. each Friday throughout Lent. This tradition consists of 14 stations of remembrance that detail key moments of Jesus’ suffering leading up to his death on the cross.

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