Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the beginning of a 40 day time period that symbolizes the time Jesus Christ spent in the desert. Lent is also a time for individuals to refocus their dedication, Associate Chaplain of Religious and Spiritual Life Jake Hofmeister said.
Amanda Oleksy, a sophomore early childhood education major, said she is one of several TCU students who will participate in Lent and give up something that is important to her.
“I’m going to give up sweets and sodas because I’m very dependent on them in my life,” Oleksy said. “We are supposed to give up something that had meaning, that way we can turn to God to help us when we are having a hard time. I’m giving them up because they are a big thing in my life and they help keep me going through the day.”
Hofmeister said that different types of Christians emphasize Lent more than others. He said that more traditional sectors, like the Catholic church, recognize Lent the most. In Catholicism, Lent is more than simply giving up a certain item or food.
“You always hear what people are going to give up for Lent, but it is more than that,” Hofmeister said. “It is also praying and giving time, money and love to people who need it.”
Hofmeister said that Lent has three different disciplines involved, including fasting, praying and giving to charity. The 40 days of Lent lead up to the Easter holiday.
Sharon Stahr-Fisher, a continuing education student, said she was going to give up something for Lent this year after successfully giving up meat last year.
“It was a challenge for myself and a commitment to my faith in God,” she said.
Alexis Tribble, a senior early childhood education major, said that participating in Lent is something she has done her entire life.
“Lent is important to me because my grandmother actually converted to Catholicism later on in life, so that’s how my mom was raised and that’s what I’ve been doing,” Tribble said. “It’s just been our tradition to give something up for Lent.”
The Rev. Charlie Calabrese, campus minister, said that the period of Lent can be seen as a time for an individual to make an intense, conscious effort to their relationship with God and to better his or her life.
He said an analogy of Lent is similar to someone on a diet. They are extremely conscious of the food they eat during that time period, but are also hoping their healthy eating habits will carry over after they have completed the diet, he said.
This is similar to increasing dedication in a relationship with God, he said.
“We are hoping that every day throughout our lives we are wanting to get closer to God, but this is set aside as a time to focus intentionally on that,” Calabrese said.