Living Christian, Not Just During Lent

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If parents did their job well, it would make sense that children would continue the traditions and practices of their parents, without having a strong desire to rebel. Yet a better indication of successful parenting would be if a child could behave autonomously, regardless of whether he takes after his elders. As we live our college lives, we are in varying degrees, much more free from the absolute dominion of our parents, and thus bear the burden of making choices of our own volition. Actions such as attending class, doing homework, eating, sleeping and so forth, are generally things which one can expect the average student to do on his own, but attending church and playing an active role in one’s faith take a less prevalent role in most people’s lives.

This would likely seem bizarre and frightening to our ancestors, to whom religious life and spiritual life were both essential and omnipresent. It is true that many Fairfield students do attend church regularly and are devout Catholics (as could be seen by all the students with ash crosses on their foreheads last Wednesday). It seems apparent, however, that outnumbering these are the ones who were raised Catholic and do not seem to care about the actual practices surrounding Christianity.

Upon being asked what one is “giving up for Lent,” people often respond by saying that they “do something instead.” In my opinion, however, this mindset skips over the point entirely. Catholics partake in the Lenten season in emulation of Jesus and the forty days he supposedly spent in the desert without food or water. But just as so many Americans make “New Year’s resolutions” around January 1st and then soon forsake them, they also lose interest in their Lenten sacrifices. This is tantamount to saying that Catholicism stands only for altruism part of the time.

Our world is becoming more secular with each passing moment. Democracies in the western world have a tendency to bring along a type of malevolent peace which breaks down cultural barriers. Immigrants have two options: either to live with people of their previous culture (i.e. Chinatown), or to integrate and sacrifice their heritage to be part of the dominant culture. As a result, people of different backgrounds live together and the idea of equality extends itself into the different religions. It is to be expected that people living in this type of society would be less inclined to be enthusiastic about their faith, and accept the idea that God loves each of us equally regardless of who we are or what our religious beliefs are.

It is up to practicing Catholics to carry the torch and be adamant in their faith not merely for forty days, but for their lives. This is the difference between spirituality, and blind obedience to a higher power, or what Fairfield student Ronny Nuñez describes as a “mass-event of indoctrination.” Those of us who have been raised Catholic have been exposed to a variety of ideas like purgatory, limbo (which apparently doesn’t exist anymore), and “fish on Fridays.” Judeo-Christian concepts like pity, community, bettering oneself, industriousness and love, all existed ten thousand years ago and will continue to exist long after our churches lie forgotten.

So truthfully, Lent is a distraction from the very transcendence it claims to aspire to help its religion’s followers achieve. Instead of following the party line, let us find those things which bring us both results, and a heightened sense of living. We shall need it, as Phillip Larkin’s poem “Church Going” declares, “If only that so many dead lie round.”

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