Packer Memorial Church is located on the Asa Packer Campus. The church offers services for students observing Lent. (Ryan Bonshak/B&W Staff)

Students observe Lent by embracing new habits

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The Lenten season began on Ash Wednesday, March 1, and will continue through Holy Thursday, April 13. During this season, practicing students across campus observe Lent by giving up some of their favorite things and taking on new challenges.

Reverend Christopher Butera said Lent is a season that has been celebrated throughout the history of the Church. He said early Christians used the season of Lent to prepare their souls, minds and hearts to properly celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter.

“Ultimately Lent is supposed to allow us to grow closer to God at the end of the Lenten season so we can properly celebrate Easter,” Butera said.

Molly McHugh, ’17, said she is giving up pizza for Lent this year. She said the purpose behind giving something up is to replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert for 40 days.

While Jesus was only in the desert for 40 days, the Lenten season lasts for 46. Butera said Sundays are not considered part of Lent because the Church considers Sunday the day of resurrection, so one does not have to sacrifice on a Sunday.

McHugh said a good way to think about the Lenten season is as a new beginning like the New Year. She said this year, in addition to giving something up she is also using the Lenten season to be more refined in all aspects of her life.

“You also give something up to reflect on the past year’s sins,” McHugh said. “This is supposed to bring you closer to God because you’re making room in your life and removing something that could possibly be distracting you from your relationship with God.”

Butera said he is encouraging students to use Lent as an opportunity to challenge themselves to help and improve the lives of others. He said it isn’t always easy for students to remember to take time out of their day to do something for others.

Caleb Leaser, ’20, said he uses Lent as a period to reflect on who he is and who he wants to be. He said the 40 days leading up to Easter are about growing closer to God and building his relationship with him.

Leaser said in addition to giving up beef, he is also trying to include nightly prayer into his routine. He said Lent isn’t about giving something up just for the sake of it. The sacrifice is meant to make room in daily life to get closer to God. Leaser said by the end of Lent, he hopes he will see praying at the end of the day not as a chore but as something he enjoys.

McHugh said giving up pizza is also about trying to control impulses and choosing the right option instead of the easy one.

“The thing you give up can have a chain effect on the rest of your life,” McHugh said. “Instead of just giving things up I’m also trying to do things to better myself so that I can be the version of myself that God wants me to be.”

To help students celebrate throughout the season of Lent, Lehigh offers services at both Packer Memorial Church as well as the Holy Ghost Church. This includes Stations of the Cross every Friday, a Lenten Mini Retreat on Thursday, April 6 and an Easter Sunday service.

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