Perspective: Season Of Lent Offers Catholics Opportunity For Renewal

WIXOM, Michigan, U.S.A. – For Catholics, Lent is a 40-day period before Easter where fasting is encouraged.
Generally, each person gives up something sacred to them, or sets almost a resolution that, in turn, will bring them closer to God.
The Lenten season starts with Ash Wednesday, which is, obviously a Wednesday, and a major day of fasting. Catholics attend a Mass, or church service, where they get a small amount of ashes rubbed on their foreheads. This year, Ash Wednesday fell on March 9, but it is different each year.
Many Christians observe Lent, but not all in the same way.
Catholics wear ashes on Ash Wednesday, which are made by burning the blessed palms used Palm Sunday of the previous year, in the shape of a cross on their forehead.
The ashes, which look like a little black smudge on the face, symbolize that people are made from dust “and to dust they shall return,” as well as showing that we are all sinners, as Lent is a period of time that is supposed to help rid people of their sins.
Throughout Lent, Catholics over the age of 14 are also encouraged to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, and at our local church there is a fish fry to encourage this behavior.
And to honor the suffering that Jesus endured in the last weeks of his life, Catholics are also encouraged to give up something personally sacred during the period of Lent.
The whole idea is to imitate Jesus’ withdrawal. Some teenagers give up things like Facebook or eating junk food. For others, it’s not about what they give up, but what they decide to do. Many people make promises to themselves to pray more or try harder to fill their lives with love and give love.
All in all, Lent is just a spiritual revitalization that allows Catholics to renew their faith.
Some people of other religions don’t believe that Lent is an effective way to do this, as there are many controversies over what it is to be a “true Catholic.”
Participating in fasting over Lent but not getting anything out of it may not be effective, but many Catholics are revitalized and closer to the Lord after Lent.
Monica Blaze is a Junior Reporter from Michigan for  Youth Journalism International.