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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carls give it up for Lent

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The end of the term is usually when students start drinking more coffee, not give it up altogether. But for Michele Arima, ’16, struggling through caffeine-free mornings marks the season of Lent.

In the Christian tradition, Lent is the season of preparing for Easter. For the 40 days that stretch from Ash Wednesday to the night before Easter (Sundays generally do not count), many Catholics and some Protestants chose to give up a food, activity, or habit to remember the suffering Jesus endured at the end of his life.

For Christian students at Carleton this reason serves as a time to focus on personal discipline and habit-breaking. Arima uses this time to give up “some sort of luxury or habit because it gives you that feeling of regret if you do it.”

At home, Arima’s entire family gives up meat on Fridays, and family members pick their own practices to follow everyday. “I don’t know if the giving up meat on Fridays is just our family or if that’s actually something for Lent,” she said. “That’s what we started with, and when we got older my parents said, ‘Hey, you try to give up something for everyday for 40 days.’

She continues this practice at Carleton, where giving up foods remind her of family traditions. Before Ash Wednesday this year, she remembers, “my sisters were talking about it, like ‘What should we give up?’”

Senior Bill Grimm has given up snacking between meals and biting his nails this year. He tried kicking the nail-biting habit before, but it did not work. Grimm still sometimes forgets to follow his practices, but he says “every time I do that I’m going to apologize to God and say, ‘Sorry, I slipped up. I’m working on it.’”

Grimm has given up foods before, like chocolate, but was never really focused on acts of self denial before coming to Carleton. “I was raised Christian, but I’ve only come to realize this thing that the only thing worth living for is God, at Carleton. I am happy and so grateful and blessed that I’ve come to realize that at this point in my life, but I didn’t really see that before. So I didn’t do as many outward practices or deep thinking about stuff like this before Carleton,” Grimm reflected.

Now, he sees Lent as a time for outward discipline that demonstrates inward focus. Thinking of habits like nail biting and snacking, he said, “I want to be able to discipline myself and show, out of respect for God, that I can restrain myself. It’s easy to fall away from God, and that’s one of the things we talk about during Lent, coming back to Him. I think it’s just one of the many ways that I’m trying to habituate myself into staying with God and proving that I can change, and that I can come back to Him if I drift off.”

Gaston Lopez, ’17, is using Lent this year to focus on giving more of his time to others. “For me, this means that I will pray more throughout the day, such as starting my day with prayer, and ending my day with prayer as much as possible.”

Following traditional Catholic recommendations, Lopez also fasts and abstains from meat on Fridays. This means “one whole meal a day, and some snacks in between as long as they do not equal a whole meal. Thankfully at Carleton,” Lopez notes, “it is easy to be abstinent, but my hunger is more prominent throughout the day.”

Whether giving up a favorite food, a bad habit, or extra time in the service of others, Lent provides students with scheduled time for reflection. This practice has taken on extra significance for many students that now have to choose to observe Lent away from family. Lopez describes this theme similar to many religious students at Carleton, reflecting, “I am doing my practice more independently and thoughtfully than I have before. It’s meaningful to me being more committed to it now.”

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