Christians resist devil’s temptations for 40 days

Marco Sisto ’08 swore off candy, but gave up and switched to breaking his nail-biting habit. Ryan Martin-Patterson ’07 is giving up chocolate. Michael Casey ’07 isn’t giving up anything tangible, instead devoting more time to prayer to deepen his relationship with God.

Some Christian students and teachers across campus are observing Lent, the 40-day period lasting from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Lent commemorates the 40-day period in which Jesus fasted in the desert and resisted the temptations of the devil. Christians use Lent as a time for repentance and self-improvement.

Katie Shelly ’08 is observing Lent for the first time this year. Though she was born Catholic, she considers herself an atheist now, but still planned to give up candy and cookies. She is observing Lent because it is “simply a great excuse to go on a diet.” She did catch herself eating a Thin Mint cookie in her Precalculus class, and soon after decided that she would give up only candy and not cookies.

Marin Dennis ’08, also Catholic, is giving up soda, as she does every year. Dennis goes to church weekly when her volleyball commitments don’t conflict.

Shannon Hart ’07 is giving up candy and believes that she will be successful because “everyone watches me and reminds me” to not eat candy.

Some are less open about what they give up.

History teacher Eric Zwemer declined to state what he is giving up, as did Foreign Language Department Chair and Spanish teacher Javier Zaragoza.

Zaragoza said that “It gives me great joy to abstain for a while. In fact, because of the practice, I have given up a few things for life.

“I was once quite poor,” Zaragoza added. “For me, this practice was absurd and somewhat unnecessary since I was practicing it as a daily given. It is much easier to give up something from a stack of choices as many of us have in this country. When I was a child, it was so difficult to give up from so few choices. Now I understand the true intention.”

Martin-Patterson believes that “the purpose of Lent is affected by people who automatically give up the same thing, year in and year out, without thinking about exactly what that means or why they are doing it. Lent is about honoring the sacrifice Christ made for us, by denying ourselves certain everyday pleasures and sharing in his suffering.”

Chaplain Father J. Young believes that the modern Lent is “really about searching one’s soul and finding what has separated one from God throughout the year.”  Young thinks that Lent “has developed into something that it’s not meant to be. If gluttony is what separates you from God,” then dieting is fine.

Max Taxe ’07, a Catholic, noted that “When I was younger I didn’t give up anything in particular, I just tried to understand what was going on. It’s fun knowing that you can pull it off.”