Although many Chamblee students observe the Catholic tradition of Lent, the meaning behind it is often left forgotten. Every year, we hear our Catholic peers talk about how hard it is to give up their phone or a certain food, but the question almost always left unanswered is why they give anything up in the first place.
“Lent represents a 40 day long period in which Jesus was in the desert and subjected to temptation by the devil,” said sophomore Nevin Aresh. “During these 40 days, Christians give up something that is close to them to make space in their hearts for the coming of Jesus.”
The practice began around 325 CE, when a 40 day Lenten season of fasting was discussed by the Council of Nicea in Turkey under emperor Constantine I. Over the course of over 1500 years, the practice of Lent has changed quite a bit, but the purpose remains the same.
“For Lent you choose to do something as an offering for God,” said sophomore Caroline Freshwater. “Most people choose to give something up, but some choose to do something extra, sacrificing their time or effort.”
Sophomore Tiffany Oh gave up all social media for Lent last year.
“I’ve given up social media before,” said Oh. “I really wanted to go on it [during Lent] but I couldn’t.”
Oh gave up social media because she knew it took up a lot of time in her day.
“Lent is all about giving up something that you need,” she said. “I feel like, at the time, social media was a necessity for me so I wanted to give it up.”
She explains that the absence of social media did not last longer than 40 days.
“I started off with re-downloading Facebook… and then I eased back into Instagram and everything else,” she said. “Lent had a positive effect for only a short period of time I guess. Sometimes I still want to give up social media because of how much time it takes up.”
As for this year, she decided not to give anything up.
“I don’t think you have to give up something every year,” said Oh. “It’s mainly because I don’t see the need. As long as your strengthening your faith throughout Lent, you shouldn’t always have to give something up.”
Freshman literature teacher Jennifer Andriano was raised Catholic and grew up practicing Lent.
“Lent for my family was definitely an individual thing in my family that my mom suggested very highly that we all participate in,” said Andriano.”We always gave up things like candy but usually I decided to just do a nice deed every day.”
To her, growing up with this annual holiday has had an overall positive effect on her adult life.
“I still try to do nice things,” she said. “I’ll be that person that pays for the person behind me in the drive-through.”
Andriano believes that, ultimately, it is better to help others rather than to give something up.
“I think that giving something up shows the willpower that you have, but being able to do something nice gives you empathy and it helps you see how you can help other people’s day,” she said. “It’s more important to look out for others than it is necessarily to prove that you can give something up for a certain amount of time.”