Image Courtesy of The Dialog

By Zachary Lichter

Valentine’s Day looked a little different this year as it coincided with Ash Wednesday. So, as students at the Catholic University of America (CUA) celebrated the most romantic day of the year, they also began their observance of Lent.

In fact,  from February 14 to March 31 of this year, Catholics all over the world will be observing Lent. Lent is a 40-day period that commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert before beginning His public ministry. 

During this 40-day period, Catholics will either sacrifice something or give up something as a form of penance. An example of something a person might give up for Lent is using Instagram. They can also complete a devotion as a form of penance, like praying the Rosary daily.

The season of Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday. Students could go to Mass at 8:15 a.m., 12:05 p.m., 5:10 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. in the St. Vincent de Paul Chapel. If they didn’t have time to go to Ash Wednesday Mass, they could still get Ashes and hear the Liturgy of the Word (Communion is not given at the Liturgy of the Word). The Liturgy of the Word was said at 8:45 a.m. in the Caldwell Auditorium, 12:30 p.m. in the Byron Auditorium in the Columbus School of Law, and 6:00 p.m. in the Caldwell Auditorium.

Bridget Robben, a freshman nursing major, commented on the importance of Lent:

“Lent is really important, because it forces you to look beyond your own wants to see the areas you are lacking in order to grow closer to God,” Robben said. “Lent is all about sacrifice, and although within Catholic tradition that has a specific purpose, it can also be helpful for people who are not religious. It can help tremendously with self growth and discipline.”

Nicholas Michalczyk, a junior physics major, commented on why people should observe Lent:

“The Great Fast commemorates the forty days that Jesus spent alone in the desert,” Michalczyk said. “It is a time for us to remember that our lives do not depend on material goods, but rather on the grace of God. By turning away from our luxuries, we look forward to celebrating Christ’s triumph over death on Easter Sunday.”

During Lent, Catholics cannot eat meat on Ash Wednesday or Friday. However, they can still eat dairy products and eggs on those days. During Mass, the priests will wear purple vestments. The color purple represents penance, sacrifice, and preparation.

During Lent, Campus Ministry has many opportunities for students to observe this special time. Starting on February 12, they can join the Spring Small Groups to read The Father’s House by Father James Brent. It’s a book that answers questions about the purpose of life, who an individual is, and how to find love while growing in a person’s friendship with Jesus.

There is also a lecture series that Campus Ministry and the Busch School of Business partnered up to run. On February 7, students had the opportunity to go to a lecture by marketing professor Dr. Paul Radich on the introduction to Lent. They can also attend a lecture about prayer on February 21, presented by Marketing professor Dr. Cabrini Pak. Furthermore, on March 6, there will be a lecture about fasting hosted by the Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs, Anthony Cannizzaro. Finally, a lecture about almsgiving will be held on March 20 by Mrs. Caroline Prickel, the Director of Career Strategy and Development for the Busch School of Business.

In whatever way Catholics plan to observe Lent, they will be preparing their hearts for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. It is an opportunity for Catholics to change who they are as people for the better. It’s a time for readiness as they celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

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