Arizona Daily Wildcat
Ash Wednesday begins a time of religious reflection, sacrifice for UA students
UA students and campus ministry groups are preparing today for the first day of Lent, the preparatory period leading to Easter.
Lent, which lasts 40 days, is a time for change and renewal when many Christians - especially Catholics - alter their everyday lives by abstaining from either enjoyable or less favorable deeds in honor of Jesus Christ's death.
The sacrificing will begin today, Ash Wednesday, and end on Palm Sunday, which is one week before Easter. Easter falls on April 15 this year.
"It's an opportunity to change your lifestyle or your relationship with others," said Father Albert Felice-Pace, director of the Catholic Newman Center on East Second Street. "You have to give up, and in the process realize your frailties and human weaknesses"
Aryn Moran, a communications sophomore and member of the Newman Center, put great thought into what she was going to give up for Lent.
"I thought about it, and I think that I'm going to give up judging others," she said. "I say things about other people and then regret it later on."
Susie Lemont, an elementary education freshman, agreed on the importance of Lent.
Lemont, who will be trying to go to bed earlier on weeknights, said she has always enjoyed what the Lenten season signifies.
"It's a time of sacrificing things to find out what Jesus sacrificed for us," she said.
Felice-Pace explained that the tradition of having ashes applied to the forehead on Ash Wednesday dates back to the Old Testament and stems from Jewish tradition.
Some of the principle meanings of the ashes are that they signify mortality, mourning and penance.
"We are dust and to dust we will return," he said, borrowing a quote from the Bible.
Catholics do not eat meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays in Lent that do not fall on holy days of obligation. Although fasting restrictions during Lent were once much stricter, Catholics must only abstain from meat on these days.
Rev. Allen Brechenridge, Episcopal chaplain at the Campus Christian Center on North Park Avenue, compared the Lenten season to Christmas.
"Lent is a time of education," he said. "It's a time to tell stories of the faith."
Brechenridge pointed out that the Ash Wednesday tradition is universal in most of the mainstream Christian faiths.
Megan Bayles, president of the University Ministry organization at the Campus Christian Center, described the Lent-eve Fat Tuesday celebration at the Center as having "forbidden foods" such as sausage and pancakes. The Newman Center also scheduled a home-cooked meal following the Mardi Gras Mass.
"It's one last chance to eat all you can before Lent," Felice-Pace said.