Lent Gives March More Meaning
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The month of March is more than just March Madness for faithful Catholic believers, it is an opportunity to grow in faith as the Lent season begins.
“Lent for my family and I is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for Easter,” Jackie Oyervides, freshman at Texas A&M University-Commerce said. “It is also a time of self-examination and reflection.”
This 40-day period takes place March 1, Ash Wednesday, through April 13, Holy Thursday. The ashes received on Ash Wednesday are a symbol and reminder of everyone’s mortality. The belief is that we begin from dust and our bodies will be dust once again after our death. As the priest put the ashes on an individual’s forehead in the form of a cross, he says the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
“This day is also a reminder that Jesus gave his life up for us,” Omar Ramirez, sophomore at A&M-Commerce said.
During these sacred days, Catholics who are 18 years old or older are required to abstain from eating meats on Ash Wednesday and every Friday until Good Friday. This sacrifice is an imitation of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert without food nor water. Even though many Catholics believe certain meats such as chicken can be eaten but they cannot. The list includes pork, beef, duck, ham, and turkey.
“We suffer a little bit to make ourselves better, better people, and become closer to God,” Quinn Sicking, graduate student at A&M-Commerce said. “So Lent for me is like a challenge, but a challenge that I embrace, like an athlete before a game.”
Any individual who is 14 years old or older is required to eat only one full meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The only exception to this fasting if an individual is older than 60 years old or has a medical condition.
Catholics also have penitential practices for the entire season of Lent. They are not regulated by the church but by each individual’s conscience.
“As a cradle Catholic, I can always clearly remember Lent as an experience because I remember nuisances that we observed as a family, which my mom upheld and us kids had to go along with, such as long Church services, fasting, giving up stuff like TV, and no meat on Fridays,” Sicking said. “I’m generally glad that we did those things then, and I still do them now, because they give me experience that sticks with me, reminding me of what it means to be a Christian and a Catholic.”
Lent is also observed by Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Methodist churches, among others.