Lenten sacrifices: 40 days of self-improvement

By Murphy Obershaw, Staff Writer

This year’s Lenten season officially started Wednesday.  Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  However, people apply these to their lives in different ways.

Some people give up something like chocolate or soda for Lent, but others tend to think a little more outside the box.  Marie O’Neal is one of these people.  

Last year, O’Neal silenced the first half of her day for Lent.  This means that until noon she would not look at her phone and would pray a rosary in the car instead of listening to music.  She decreased the noise of everyday life and spent more time in contemplation.

This year, O’Neal plans to give up negative self talk and keep an affirmation journal.  In this journal, she will write letters to Jesus in which she will not only affirm her worth as a child of God but also reject her thoughts about not being good enough.  

“I realized that when I don’t allow myself to be loved truly as the Lord loves me, I am standing in the way of building up His Kingdom and doing His work,” O’Neal said.

Seminarian Nicholas Samsel is doing something similar to what O’Neal did last year.  He is refraining from using his phone and computer for unnecessary things.  In addition to that, he will say the stations of the cross every day and write letters of gratitude and affirmation to three different friends per week.

Samsel intends to use these practices to help him focus on spending more time on others as opposed to himself.

In Father John Fogliasso’s homily from last Sunday’s mass, he recommended praying about what to give up for Lent.  He said to ask the question, “God, what is it you really want me to grow in?”  Fogliasso says that what we do for Lent should be something that will help us better ourselves spiritually.

It can be hard to keep a Lenten commitment, but O’Neal encourages everyone to try again if they slip up.

“If you do fall off of your sacrifice or of your added prayer, never be afraid to get back up because the Lord never tires of picking us up, and He never tires of forgiving us,” O’Neal said.

If you are still trying to figure out what to do for Lent, Campus Ministry offers a few resources to help you out.  In addition to daily mass on campus at 12:05 p.m., there will also be stations of the cross offered after mass on Fridays.  Free Lenten reflection books are also available.  

PHOTO: ASH WEDNESDAY is the starting point for Lent, which is a Catholic cleansing period that leads to Easter. Courtesy Photo, Newman Advancement