August 18, 2018

Abstain and Gain: the Benefits of Lent

Ashes on a girl's forehead for Ash Wednesday

Nicholas Crenshaw ’20/ The Cowl

by McKenzie Tavella ’18

Opinion Staff

As a Catholic institution, we recognize that many Providence College students observe Lent and have probably learned a thing or two about the religious season throughout the years. There are many traditions that people often overlook or even struggle with during this season, such as deciding what to give up. Attempting to follow these customs and avoiding these difficulties is both important and challenging.

Putting in effort and making the right choice can positively impact your life and others, especially on the Providence College campus, as there are many benefits to giving something up for Lent.

Lent begins each year on Ash Wednesday. This means that this is the start of giving something up, if you choose to do so. Although it may seem like a loss on a surface level, giving something up can be a very humbling, effective, and meaningful experience.

Not only are you making a difference in your own life as a Catholic, but depending on what you choose to give up, you could make a difference in other people’s lives as well. For example, what if every student at PC gave up gossiping for Lent? Just imagine how much of a better a place campus would be. There would be less drama, less hurt, and less time spent on futile conversations.

Beyond doing this for others, give something up for yourself as well! To be completely honest, I always feel better about myself when giving something up for Lent. Even trying makes you feel good inside. This may sound self-absorbed, but at the end of the day, do you not want to like who you are? Therefore, giving something up for Lent will not only change the people around you, but who you are as well. 

Of course there are always the choices that seem to have no meaning at all, such as chocolate or junk food, but even these options go a long way, as they are unhealthy. Giving something up that will encourage a healthy lifestyle in terms of diet is always a good idea. There are also the options of social media or alcohol, which are also healthy choices in their own way with regards to mental and physical well-being. Ultimately, you cannot go wrong.

There is also the option of making this decision based on religious significance. After all, it is the season of Lent. One option is to give up cursing, which is actually one of the Ten Commandments, asking to not take the Lord’s name in vain. Therefore, not only are you choosing something that could positively impact those around you and your individual persona, but this is also directly connected to Catholicism. 

However, this does not mean that if you are not a Catholic, you cannot abide by the traditions of Lent. Giving something up during this season is a good idea for anybody, regardless of faith or religious affiliation. Helping others in any way you can is a custom we should all strive for, regardless of the time of year, as well. In fact, it may turn into a permanent change.

Most importantly, it is crucial that you put thought into this decision. Make sure it is realistic or something that will actually stick. Ask yourself if it is really doable for you or something you are going to give up for two weeks and then call it quits.

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