While many students last week were anxiety-stricken, preparing and procrastinating for midterms, on the afternoon of March 6 Christians and Catholics around the world gathered to celebrate Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Liturgical season of Lent. Lent is the period of 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday when Christians focus on turning their hearts and minds back to God through penance and reflection. This practice is most notably done through the tradition of abstaining from bad habits or giving up practices of significance.
Stephen Hanley ’20 sarcastically questioned if there were even spiritual groups on campus. This response speaks to the common understanding about LC religious life — that there isn’t any. This is Hanley’s first year observing Lent, and while his religious identification is relatively uncertain, he views Lent as a period of time that provides people with the opportunity to omit things from daily life that can help you improve yourself.
Hanley decided to give up video games. While he admitted to playing video games since Lent started, he emphasized the idea that it’s not about cutting video games out cold-turkey, but taking steps to change something about your life, without any expectations of overnight changes. By restricting the amount of video games he plays, Hanley finds he has more time to focus on school and be productive.
Justin Seidel ’22 comes from a Catholic background, explaining what the season means to his family.
“For my family is represents a time of contemplation and a time of personal and spiritual growth and trying to put yourself in the shoes of Jesus.” Siedel said.
Despite his family background Seidel decided against participating in Lent. He adds that there is a fundamental lack of understanding of Lent by LC students.
Sarah Leonard ’22 attends Mass at the Agnes Flanagan Chapel every Sunday with friends. Leonard’s spiritual life has played an increasingly significant role over the past few years.
“When it comes to my life here and Catholicism I mainly just look at the more general aspects of it like love and compassion for others,” Leonard said. “I feel like that’s what shapes my life here as I’ve been trying to make new relationships with people.”
Despite a strong connection to her religion, like Seidel, when it comes to observing Lent this year, Leonard also decided not to participate. While she does try to avoid eating meat on Fridays, which is a component of Lent, she felt that personally giving up something didn’t have much significance.
“In today’s age it’s just become a way for people to try again on their New Years Resolution” Leonard joked.
The consensus among Christian students is that religious life at LC is accessible, but not entirely understood.
Leonard, who attended LC’s Ash Wednesday Mass noticed that when she returned from church, many people doing a double-take when they saw her. on campus.
Hanley believes LC students have assumptions of what they think religion looks like.
“I think if I told people I’m giving up video games because I’m a lazy slob they would be a little bit more willing to be like ‘hey that’s sick’ than if I said I was observing Lent because I love God,” Hanley said.
Although spiritual life is viewed as absent or hiding on campus, students are now using this time to reflect on what spirituality means to them. LC students are combining mindful practices with personal interpretations of faith and attempting to improve their well-being.
Written by Ty Langley.