In New York, where every indulgence and resource is at your disposal, the season of Lent is quite the challenge for practicing Catholics in the NYU community.
Lent is a period of 40 days were Catholics and some other Christian denominations must ward away their temptations in honor of the 40 days and 40 nights that Jesus Christ lived among angels and animals in the heat of the desert. He fasted — not eating or drinking — the whole time, even though he was tempted by the devil himself. To replicate this sacrifice, partakers give up their choice of luxury from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.
CAS senior Angie Gonzalez is giving up pizza this Lent season.
“I eat it way too much,” Gonzalez said. “In the past I’ve given up cupcakes. I’ve given up chicken wings, just things I feel like I indulge in.”
Limiting indulgences helps Gonzalez to better understand sacrifice, humility and the comforts she may not need.
“Some people don’t have the privilege of giving up pizza,” Gonzalez said. “Little things I love so much are some I could do without.”
Gonzalez sees Lent as a time where she can explore her faith and place in the church and ultimately become closer to God, while also cutting down on dollar pizza.
Food is a popular item to give up for lent. CAS junior Hannah Foley is giving up sweets, chocolates, junk food and the like with a charitable twist — she will donate the money she would have spent on these luxuries to funds that help those in need instead.
“When you do give something up it makes you more cognizant of how many things we have in life that can distract us from what really matters,” Foley said.
Foley makes sure to go to mass every week and looks to come out of the 40-day season with a more frequent prayer life and maybe a healthier body. Like Gonzalez, Foley views Lent as a time where thinking about her actions can help her take a step back and be appreciative for what she has.
“It helps to remind me to be selfless,” Foley said. “I might be stressed out, but if a friend needs me you’d be a hypocrite if you’re giving up chocolate but not willing to go out of your way to help another person.”
Just the act of sacrifice at NYU, where university lifestyle can be decadent, can be a learning opportunity. At NYU’s Catholic Center, Father Sebastian White explained how Lent is not just about going on a diet but about learning how to be mature.
“If you become accustomed to satisfying every desire you have it becomes harder to make big sacrifices,” White said. “Making those decisions is part of being an adult.”
Father White said Lent is more than just giving up something — the tradition includes not eating meat on Fridays, giving to charity, fasting and going to confession. This is all an effort to imitate Christ’s life on Earth and to participate more in God’s plan.
Email Louis Rodriguez at [email protected]