Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. For most, it’s another normal day; and for the seniors at my university, it is just another stressful day which gets them closer to graduation. For many though, Ash Wednesday is another reminder of many things. For me, it mostly consists of 2 things, a sign of the incoming summer vacation and a time of sacrifice. My parents raised all of me and my siblings to be very devout Catholics that attend mass every week, including holy days of obligation, and other special occassions like New Years, Christmas, that sort of thing. Ever since I was young, it was always a practice in my family to abstain from meat (even if abstinence begins at the age of 12 if I recall correctly). I would always remember Lenten Season as being a time of no meat on Fridays, and no TV for the entire Lenten Season. Sacrifice, my mom always mentioned, was an important thing to remember for the Lenten Season. And despite me being an independent college student, her words still do not escape me. Even if my mom does not constantly remind my siblings about the Lenten Season, it has in some way been embedded into us to sacrifice something for the season.
TV was a very hard thing to come by when I was younger since my mom restricted us from watching television on weekdays. It was harder to sacrifice TV then since we only got it for the weekends, which also meant goodbye PS1 and PS2-playing for the Lenten Season. If I remember, mom tried to persuade us to give up the computer for the Lenten Season, but that was an absolute no-no since schoolwork demanded that we use computers. In more recent years though, I’ve tried giving up many things that I liked for the Lenten Season, softdrinks and iced tea being one of the things I love the most. I am not quite sure if I remember correctly but in the 2 years I’ve experienced Lent as a college student, I think I spent one Lent giving up iced tea and another softdrinks, for I cannot live without both. Coffee, unless it is Starbucks, does not work for me and instead makes me sleepy, which is why I rely heavily on softdrinks and Iced Tea. This year though, I’ve tried to commit myself to giving up again, softdrinks, and if possible watching Taiwanese dramas as well. Seeing as I’ve taken to watching Taiwanese dramas occassionally in the past couple of weeks, this could be a big thing (in my opinion) to sacrifice since I love watching Taiwanese dramas.
Also, this Lenten Season, I’ve finally decided to try fasting. My mom has tried to make me fast during Lent for the last couple of years since 16years old is the age which Christians are suppose to begin fasting, but I’ve always argued against my mother concerning that practice since I told her that a student needs to eat healthy and full meals if she expects anything to get in her noggin. But this year, I’m trying and yesterday was the first day of my trial which I had successfully done. My brunch consisted of only 2 bowls of Koko Krunch and my merienda (snack)- slash-dinner consisted of a rice meal of fish fillet and a drink of Iced Tea. Didn’t feel up to eating any dinner either.
So there. Some may see it as an excuse to diet but to others, it really is a sacrifice of something you want. Over the years, as the Lenten Season comes and I ask my friends what they are sacrificing, many times I get the same question, why. It has always been difficult, being one of few people who really take Catholicism seriously. Since Elementary, I have been one of few in my class who really go to mass every Sunday without fail, do sacrifices and go to the Holy Thursday-Black Saturday Lenten mass, and those other Christian practices. But despite that, it’s a struggle to practice and to keep believing in what I do. And despite the fact that people ask me why I do what I do, I just try to tell them that practices are not things that God requires people to do. If you believe in it, you do it. If you don’t, then don’t do it. But the overall important thing is, do not question what other people do. And I try to reiterate this to my friends all the time. I sacrifice for Lent and I try to encourage them to do so, but I do not any under circumstances force them to do so. They were raised differently than I, so who am I to question how they go about doing things. At the same time, I also tell them that they have no right to question what I do and how I practice my religion, and they have no right to tell me that what I’m doing is wrong or makes no sense.
Basically, mutual respect for religion and cultures.
Today is officially Day 2 and so far, no sign of softdrinks and Taiwanse Dramas, though I am very much tempted to do so. I must try to hold out as much as I can. 39 days to go. I can do this. 加油！