Murray State students and faculty are observing the traditional season of Lent, which is set apart by the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations. The season’s purpose is to honor Jesus’ times of temptation in the desert, and is traditionally observed by giving up something, whether it be food, social media or actions. Some followers also refrain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays throughout the season.
Lent is 40 days long, and began on Feb. 13. Lent will continue until Easter Sunday.
The marker of the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday, is a day that shows commitment to the remainder of Lent, as believers who choose to participate in the Catholic faith will be marked by the priest with ash in a cross on the forehead. The cross is intended not to advertise that a person believes, but that the person has made a commitment to the faith to carry out their promise in the Lent season.
“Having gone to a Catholic high school, I always remember Ash Wednesday to be very peaceful, and a ceremonious mass,” said Kathryn Mehlbauer, junior from Louisville, Ky. “A lot of times the ashes actually rub off before the day is even over, but it’s not about being high and mighty. It’s a symbol of your faith and it’s a commitment between you and God.”
Mehlbauer said being a college student and observing Lent is much harder, as students don’t have as much control over food choices, and for many it is not as universally accepted as it may be back home, but she said she does not intend to let it stop her this Lent season.
Casey Hotop, freshman from Perryville, Mo., said Lent this year may be more difficult than most as she has committed to giving up one of her favorite things in the world.
“This year for Lent I gave up chocolate, and it is killing me,” Hotop said. “My roommate got a whole huge box of chocolate for Valentine’s Day, and she offered to share some with me, asking if I wanted any. I had to tell her that yes, I want some, but no, I won’t take any. This year is going to be so hard.”
As the Lent season progresses and many students and faculty struggle through the temptations of going back on their Lent commitments, many find themselves pleasantly surprised by their willpower.
Story by Shannon MacAllister, Staff writer.