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March 31, 2007

Giving it up to get closer to God

by Priyanka Gokhale, Online Editor-in-Chief
As sophomore Julie Ufford tries to log in to her Facebook, she types in her password, but is denied entry. Since Feb. 21 – Ash Wednesday – Ufford's password has not permitted her entry to her blog accounts, for she has changed her password to remind her that she has given up Facebook and MySpace for Lent.

Lent, the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday, is a Christian season and a time for many Christians to become moderately ascetic – sacrificing common luxuries or making vows in an effort to repent for sins made throughout the year.

Many Blazers participate in Lent by giving up favorite foods in penance for their sins. Since Feb. 21, these Blazers, with support from family, friends and religious leaders, have kept their vows and will do so until April 8, the Saturday before Easter and the last day of the season.
Prayer, fasting and charity are the three integral components of Lent.
<i>Picture courtesy of catholicculture.org</i>
Prayer, fasting and charity are the three integral components of Lent. Picture courtesy of catholicculture.org

Honoring religion
For junior Grace Feissner-Massey, Lent is not about "giving up chocolate or giving up coffee." According to Feissner-Massey, Lent is a time to "honor Christ." But, this self-proclaimed coffee addict had some difficulties giving up her beverage of choice.

During the first days of Lent, she found herself battling the mental and physiological effects of her new separation from coffee. "The first week, I got the shakes," she says. "I went into it cold turkey, so it was hard."

To nurse her anxiety, Feissner-Massey has made use of a rule that allows Christians to forgo their sacrifices on Sundays. "If you've given up something for Lent, you can have it on Sunday, so you can eat whatever," she says. "I definitely do that. I drink double [on Sundays]."

Feissner-Massey notes that support from her church community has helped her adhere to her vow. Sermons during Lent relate to the sacrifices people are making, and her involvement in several youth groups has allowed her to give and receive good will and cheers. "We're all in the same boat," she says. We all encourage each other together."

Lent has also kept her religion on her mind at all times. "It's always something reminding you that you are recognizing your sins in preparation of Easter," she says.

Despite her devotion, Feissner-Massey looks forward to April 7, the day that she can finally drink coffee regularly once more. "I'm probably not going to quit [drinking coffee]," she laughs. "[But] maybe I won't be such a chain-drinker."

Celebrating sacrifice
In freshman Diana Jeang's non-denominational church, most attendees – including her parents – do not observe Lent. Instead, Jeang was first introduced to the idea by a friend in the fifth grade.

That year, Jeang gave up chips. Since then, she has added to the list of junk foods she gives up every year – a list that now includes cake, candy and soda, among others. "Every year I try to add on a little more, that's why I gave up so many random things," she says.

For Jeang, Lent is a time to honor the sacrifices of others. "I give things up because I think that it's a good way to remember how Jesus made sacrifices," she says. "In this way, I'm kind of making sacrifices to see what it's like."

Jeang's actions have inspired her younger brother, who now also observes Lent. She also has the support of many of her friends who observe Lent for various reasons – including a chance to eat correctly. "A lot of my friends do it, too, but for different reasons," she says. "A lot of my girlfriends just want an excuse to stay away from sweets so they can get healthier."

Jeang says that her experience with Lent has taught her not to take food for granted, though she notes that her sacrifices have been, in the long run, still small. "Just me sacrificing these small things doesn't amount to anything as big as what Christ did," she says. "It's hard to even come close to understanding what that's like."

Abstaining from the Internet
After school, sophomore Julie Ufford used to spend a considerable chunk of time on Myspace and Facebook. Though they helped her stay in touch with old friends, they also decreased the amount of time she had for other activities, including prayer. So, this year, Ufford decided to give her MySpace and Facebook up for 40 days.

With the absence of these websites, Ufford finds that she has more time to devote to her religion. "I get my homework done faster and I go to bed earlier," she says. "And I usually pray or read the Bible before I sleep."

Last year, Ufford gave up her blog on Xanga.com. "It was easy," she says. "I just deleted it." Giving up MySpace and Facebook were more difficult, because she uses the websites to keep in touch with old friends. "I actually use them to keep in contact with some people," she says. "I feel like if I delete [MySpace and Facebook] I might never talk to them again, or know what's going on in their lives."

So, to ensure that she kept her promise, Ufford changed the passwords to her Myspace and Facebook to words that would remind her of God and Lent. "So, if I forget, I type the [old] password and then I'll remember the real password and it reminds me," she says.

Once Lent ends, Ufford will go back to using MySpace and Facebook regularly, but thinks she will probably use it less frequently. "I guess [this experience] has taught me that I have a lot of will power," she says.

Keeping two cultures alive
Senior Kenny Coleman is the President of Blair's Jewish Culture Club and a practicing Jew. But since the seventh grade, Coleman, whose father is Christian, has kept Kosher during Lent as a way to celebrate both of his parent's religions.

"No one in my family keeps Kosher or practices Lent," Coleman says. "I thought it was a cool way to preserve both religions."

During Lent, Coleman abstains from shellfish and pork. After eating dairy products, he waits one hour before eating meat products, and after eating meat products, he waits three hours before eating dairy products.

With these restrictions in place, Coleman says he does find it difficult. "I have to think about what I'm eating, and what time it is," he says.

But, he does not plan on keeping Kosher for the rest of his life. "I'm not [going to] give up bacon cheeseburgers any time soon," he says, laughing.

Though Coleman's parents do not keep Kosher or observe Lent, they support his decision. His rabbi, on the other hand, "doesn't understand the concept of practicing both," Coleman says.

Still, Coleman hopes to continue keeping Kosher during Lent. Though he says it will get harder once he goes to college, he plans do this instead of abstaining from bread during the Jewish holiday Passover. "I don't like Passover because I have to give up bread and I live off of bread," he says. "So, I might continue doing this as a substitute."



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  • ... on April 2, 2007 at 12:20 PM
    I disagree with giving up such trivial things. Didn't Christians used to fast for lent?
  • anonymous (View Email) on April 2, 2007 at 12:34 PM
    It's good that you guys are giving up things for God, but it shouldn't be just because of Lent. You need to surrender your lives to God and take it more seriously. You shouldn't just go back to your old bad habits once Lent is over. Be more serious about God because He is coming soon and you will be judged. If you love God, you will follow His commandments all the time.
  • Plug on April 2, 2007 at 2:28 PM
    CHRISTIAN CLUB AT 3:00 in RM 264 Every Thursday, Drop By at 2:15 for some fellowship and hanging out.
  • Someone you may know on April 2, 2007 at 6:37 PM
    To ...:
    Diana and Grace are fasting from food, just a specific type of food.

    Also, the things these people are giving up aren't trivial; they mean something to these people. And THAT is what Lent is about, giving up something that is important to you.

    Many Christians still fast from food for Lent.
  • to: anonymous on April 2, 2007 at 8:13 PM
    thanks for you opinions, but please don't proselytize on SCO. The wonderful thing about Freedom of Religion is that people can practice their religion any way they want (within reason).
  • also to:anonymous on April 3, 2007 at 10:36 PM
    Where do athiests stand under your opinion? You criticize people who give up realistic things for Lent, such as chocolate, and tell them that they should constantly be devoid of them because "he" is coming and they shall be judged. Out of curiosity where does that leave athiests in your opinion?
  • question to Jewish ppl on April 8, 2007 at 4:51 PM
    Coleman, or any other Jewish person:

    Y must Jews wait 1hr after eating dairy b4 they eat meat?

    Y must Jews wait 3 hrs after meat b4 they eat dairy?
  • to:also to:anaymous on April 8, 2007 at 11:39 PM
    Wow. That name is getting overly complex....

    Um, anyhow. I think anonymous wasn't saying you should be devoid of things you give up for Lent all the time. That's a bit of misinterpretation.
    (Note when they said: "You need to surrender your lives to God and take it more seriously. You shouldn't just go back to your old bad habits once Lent is over.")

    They meant bad habits and such, things that are sinful/detract from a relationship with God anyway. Chocolate and junkfood do not, unless they are higher than God in your life. In the article, one of the people interviewed discussed excessive Internet use. That was what anonymous meant by "old bad habits". When you use the Internet too much to the point it interferes with your relationship with God, that's when it's a bad thing, and becomes a sin.

    Now do you see what anonymous meant? I think your take on what they wrote made them appear very irrational...

    Basically, anonymous was pointing out (to Christians practicing Lent) that living for God is a 24/7 thing. Not a forty-day thing.

    As for where that leaves atheists, well, the comment wasn't really directed toward them. But it does present some Biblical truths that apply to all if you read it. We all will be judged by God mainly, and basically the other stuff they wrote on that note….

    Hope that clears things up a bit....
  • Kial on April 9, 2007 at 9:27 AM
    It's the digestion/purification process. Once you eat the dairy you wait an hour when most of it is out of your system, making it okay to eat the meat. Because it takes longer for meat to be digested you wait three hours before it is pretty much okay to eat dairy again.
  • sco lover on April 10, 2007 at 3:45 PM
    to "question":

    Exodus 23:19 -- "...You shall not bathe a calf in its mother's milk." Traditionally, what that has meant in Kosher law is to keep all meat and dairy separate, i.e. separate dishware, utensils, containers, and even making sure they don't meet in your stomach.
  • In my opinion... on April 17, 2007 at 8:49 AM
    We should all give up everything but pasta and things associated with pirates in praise of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. May you all be touched by His Noodly Appendage. RAmen.
  • to: to: anonymous (Mike Z, 07) (View Email) on April 19, 2007 at 9:30 PM
    Thank you for your opinions, but please don't deny others the right to speak their mind on SCO. After all, the wonderful thing about freedom of speech is the right to say what you want (within reason).
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