Students make Lenten sacrifices – Web Exclusive

Janica Kaneshiro | Staff Writer

Lent is the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting, according to Merriam-webster.com, but the meaning varies among individuals, according to junior Hannah Sliger.Sliger, who isn’t Catholic, said that for her, Lent has more to do with family ties than it does to her religion.

“I’m not Catholic,” Sliger said. “I’m [non-denominational] Christian, but my dad is Catholic, and he always does [Lent]. So sometimes, I just decide to do it with him.”

Sliger, who gave up high-fructose corn syrup last year, said it’s important during Lent to try to make it all 40 days, but it’s more about the challenge of making it than it is based on her religious beliefs.

“I gave up high-fructose corn syrup along with my dad,” Sliger said. “He was doing it, so I just decided to do it with him.  I just did it because he mentioned it and we were like ‘That would be kind of fun’, because it’s different. And it’s in a lot of things, so it’s a challenge.”

For junior Kaitlin McNamara, Lent is more of a religion-based event where she said she pays more attention to the biblical aspects of the season, but she also recognizes it as a healthful decision for the rest of her life.

“The church basically says that it wants you to recognize on a day-to-day basis the sacrifices that Jesus made for us,” McNamara said. “But they also want it to be a healthy decision so that it benefits your life, too.”

McNamara also said that she bases her decision on what to give up for Lent off of what would be difficult for her to get rid of, but also what would benefit her in the long run which is central to the religious exercise.

“I had to decide, ‘What’s something I really enjoy, but could probably use less of in my life anyway?’” McNamara said. “So I decided that drinking soda was something I really loved, but something I should probably love a little less.”

Senior Alex Cunningham said he decided to give up something that he feels isn’t excessive in his life, but something that he really loves and would give up to concentrate on the “more important things” in his life.

“[I gave up] guitar,” Cunningham said. “I’ve been playing guitar since I was 9 years old and it’s pretty much my favorite hobby. I [feel] that even if I give up playing guitar, I can put my mind on more important things like family, school, and God.”

This year, McNamara has taken on the task of not snacking between meals and she said she’s working hard to achieve her goal of forty days without it. She said she admits that Lent isn’t always easy and that water is a tool she uses to distract herself from temptation.

“I think it’s not [difficult] after a certain amount of time, but it’s hard when you’re not thinking about it,” McNamara said. “It’s easy to just go to the cabinet and grab a granola bar. So, it means buckling down in times when you’re not thinking about it. It just makes you start thinking again.  When [I give up] soda or snacking [for Lent], I drink a lot more water– that helps a lot.”

McNamara said she has also found other ways of coping, like focusing on school or other distractions to keep her busy that make looking forward to the end that much easier.

“I try to focus on other stuff, whether it’s schoolwork, reading or other things to get my mind off of it, because I know it’s not permanent,” McNamara said. “So, it’s nice because I can look forward to when it’s over.”

Sliger said that she isn’t participating in Lent this year because she hasn’t found anything to give up that would be enough of a challenge.

“I really only do it sometimes, like if something comes by and I think, ‘Oh, I should try to give that up for a while,’” Sliger said. “But this year I didn’t give anything up because I didn’t really have anything [I wanted to give up]. Lent isn’t something really important to me. If I see something [challenging], I’ll do it; and if I don’t, then I won’t.”

Both Sliger and McNamara said they noticed a change in their lifestyles after the forty days were up.

“I noticed that I didn’t crave [soda] as much,” McNamara said. “Forty days is the end of the hump so once you get past that point you think ‘I’m going to get a glass of water more often instead of getting soda.’ Even still, a year later, [I drink soda less]. I used to drink it multiple times a week but now I drink it maybe once a week, if that. So it ended up being a really good life change anyway.”

Sliger also said she gained a new awareness of the food she gave up.

“Afterwards, I let myself eat [high-fructose corn syrup], but I was more aware of it,” Sliger said.  “I just pay attention now to how much stuff has [high-fructose corn syrup] in it. So, I just try to stay more aware of it.”

In both cases, the 40 days of Lent are a time to prove something, be it to yourself or a greater power, according to McNamara, and that either way, it’s important to stick to it.

“It’s important to [stick to my Lenten plan for the 40 days to] me because I am really thankful for the sacrifices that Jesus made for me in my day to day life,” McNamara said. “So, I want to be able to prove not only to myself, but also to Him, that I’m willing to care and focus on it just like He did for me.”