By Shedeiky Hamilton
“I am giving up sex,” said Petrona Parsley, a 25 year old college student.
Parsley is willing to give up a pleasurable aspect of her lifestyle during the period of Lent. She joins the millions of believers who are willing to give up something substantial during this celebration.
“I am married and I know that this might pose a problem, but this is a sacrifice that I am willing to make,” Parsley said. “I am giving it up, to fully focus on my exams.”
Some of the things that people will give up might be very basic and could be anything that one desire, such as food, cursing, foul language, and even drinking.
“I love to eat bread, any type of bread: So I’ve decided to give up bread for Lent,” said John Galgano, Associate Director of Labor Relations at Mercy College.
Lent is a Christian season of preparation for Easter, when believers purge themselves of any impurities and prepare new converts for baptism.
It is celebrated over a forty days period, starting on Ash Wednesday (the seventh Wednesday before Easter). This sacrificial period leads up to Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Christians believe that Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins, and the days leading up to his death and resurrection, which occur at the end of Lent, are to be celebrated as sacred and holy,” added Galgano.
In Catholic churches, Lent ends on Holy Thursday, followed by Good Friday and Easter Sunday which is celebrated with the mass of the Lord’s Supper. Good Friday is a part of the celebration as Christians believe that was the day that Jesus was crucified and rose again on Sunday, thus, Easter Sunday.
During this period, believers practice a series of penitence and introspection, reflecting on the things they have done and things they want to change.
The sanctuaries or churches are decorated in purple, dark violet or red violet to symbolize the pain and suffering that Jesus had to undergo leading up to his crucifixion. It also symbolizes human suffering and the sins of the world.
The observance of the forty days is to imitate what Jesus went through while he was in the wilderness. The Bible speaks of how Jesus was tempted by the devil for forty days and forty nights while he fasted. The devil also offered him food which he resisted and after the forty days “he hungered.”
Galgano believes “that the Church instituted Lent to remind us of the suffering and death of Jesus, and its importance to Christians.”
Members of the Mercy College community have given up various items for Lent, such as eating bagels, drinking soda, smoking, eating pizza or playing video games.
It is customary that Christian believers abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent; however, many individuals are willing to give up just about anything.
“During the forty days, we fast and pray from sun up to sun down, not even taking a break for water,” said Vashon McIntyre, a student at Mercy College.
McIntyre grew up in the St. Theresa Holiness Science Church where members believe in the science in the evolution of man as it relates to spirituality. Instead of giving one thing up for the entire period, they give up every food “from the rising of the sun until the going down of the same.”
“During the day, we sing praises to God while we commend our whole spirit to him and focus on how he died for the remission of our sins,” added McIntyre.
It is during this period of Lent that McIntyre believes people who gave up something will be tempted the most.
“You will be tempted with everything for those forty days. You just have to ask God for strength by opening up your whole spirit unto him,” McIntyre said.
According to Cathy Dale, Student Services Counselor of the White Plains campus, senior citizens in the Catholic Church are released from their obligations to give up anything; neither are they pressured to fast.
“I gave up candy in the past because I was a great lover of candies,” Dale said. “Now I am a senior, so we are not obligated to do that anymore, but I ensure that I attend church every Sunday during Lent.”
The primary purpose of giving something up is to sacrifice your own self interests.
“In today’s world, the idea of sacrifice has become a sort of “bad word” and so the 40 days of Lent are a great time for everyone, not just Christians, to remember that the only way to find true peace, not only in the world, but with each other, is to think of others first,” said Galgano.
This is what Galgano believes is the whole idea of the sacrifice during Lent.
Giving up something that is passion to an individual isn’t all that can be done during the period of Lent. People often try to change some of their behaviors or they give money to charity.
“I try to do other things during Lent such as helping out at a soup kitchen or giving a little extra money to charity,” said Galgano. “I find that it’s not enough merely to give something up, but I also want to do something else like giving back to others.”
Individuals following this tradition focus more on what others need than what they themselves want.
Galgano believes that people are truly happy when they help someone else, not expecting something in return, but sharing pure love for the other person.
“Lent helps us to remember that Golden Rule.”