For this Lenten season, some St. Thomas students are making non-traditional sacrifices like pants and beds.
According to theology professor Steven McMichael, out of the ordinary sacrifices can be advantageous as long as they have good intentions.
“The whole point of Lent … is to prepare ourselves to become Easter people,” McMichael said. “These 40 days are supposed to be those things that make us get in tuned with what Easter is about: meaning of new life, of resurrection, of Easter.”
McMichael said Lenten sacrifices shouldn’t just be for individual benefit or making oneself miserable. Rather, he said it’s about transforming oneself into a better person. He said people often make sacrifices with the wrong intention.
“I know I’ve done things where it is really more self-centered than it is other-centered, and it’s really been more of an endurance test,” McMichael said. “You know, can I endure 40 days without chocolate? But whatever. That’s great for endurance and maybe my health, but the real reason is, what am I doing for the sake of becoming an Easter person?”
Along with sleeping on her futon instead of her bed, freshman Lizzy Thibault gave up using elevators and eating desserts, and she began attending adoration more regularly. She said she gave up sleeping in her bed for discipline.
“It’s harder to explain why I decided to give up my bed. It would be easier to say because it’s something that I take for granted, but I really didn’t think about that until recently,” Thibault said. “The real reason involves something that Catholics call mortification. It might sound morbid because of the most common use of the word mortify, but it’s actually related to the less commonly-used definition, which refers to self-denial or discipline.”
Sophomore Michael Bridges said he believes Lent is about giving up daily luxuries, so he gave up pants.
“I don’t really think it’s about being an Easter person, for me at least, but maybe for other people it is,” Bridges said.
Thibault said the key is to not to give up on a promise even after failure.
“I think it’s important if people fail in their efforts to give something up for Lent or to carry out a resolution that they’ve made,” Thibault said. “When they do fail that, they try to pick it back up again even if it’s hard.”
Stephanie Dodd, Anne Gaslin, Michelle Doeden and Jesse Krull contributed to this report.
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