Making the sacrifice for Lent
Santa Monica College student Allison Griffin went to a Catholic church in Los Angeles as a child, but since her youth, she has not committed to Lent.
"I believe in God, but honestly, I don't follow any particular religion," said Griffin. "I really wouldn't give anything up for Lent since I haven't done it in so long."
But some religious students are willing to give up what they care about most, for 40 days and 40 nights, in an attempt to feel a sort of spiritual cleansing.
Lent is a remembrance of when Jesus went into the wild and withdrew from society for 40 days, where he endured temptation from the devil. We imitate this ritual with personal sacrifice, according to the Rev. Ken Collins on his official website.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues in preparation for Easter, but it is not celebrated by all denominations of Christianity, said Dana Del George, an English professor who teaches a religious studies class on the literature of the New Testament at SMC.
The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia's website said that Lent is mostly observed by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Anglicans.
"I decided to give up drinking for Lent, which is extremely difficult for me because I go out drinking with my boys every weekend," said SMC student Alejandro Mendoza.
While Mendoza may have found it difficult to give up alcohol, he chose not to add any extra ritual, such as extensive praying or reading the Bible.
"I can't drink on St. Patrick's Day until Lent is over; I think I'm doing enough," said Mendoza.
The ritual ends on Easter when, according to the Bible, Jesus was resurrected after being crucified.
Some practicing Catholics have different customs, such as only eating fish on Fridays or getting an ash cross on their forehead on Ash Wednesday, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia's website.
"Every year, my mom starts preparing and serving seafood and I love it, but knowing that I can't eat meat is what makes me want it more on those Lent Fridays," said Mendoza.
"The youth of our church often come to me to ask me what they should give up for Lent," said the Rev. Raul Hernandez, a priest from St. Joan of Arc church in Los Angeles. "I tell them that it should be something precious to them that they know would be a challenge."
"Lent is meant to be a test of your willpower and your faith, and the whole time you should feel a strong spiritual connection to God, even though it's hard," said Hernandez.