The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday January 24th

Gaining From 40 Days of Giving Up

This was Laughlin's first introduction to Lent. "I was so mad; I just wanted to have them back," said Laughlin, now a nondenominational UNC sophomore.

Since then, she has recognized the significance of the season. "It is a way to remember Jesus' sacrifices for me and makes me remember them during a time when I normally wouldn't," Laughlin said.

Father Phillip Leach, the campus minister at the Newman Catholic Student Center, said Easter could not truly be observed without experiencing the Lenten period. "Much like studying before a big exam, you don't celebrate Easter without preparing for it," he said.

Lent, which this year began Feb. 13, Ash Wednesday, and ends this morning, Holy Thursday, has experienced cycles of severity throughout the years.

The season's roots originate with Catholicism. Dating as far back as 1,900 years, Catholic fasting lasted 40 hours. Those 40 hours eventually evolved into a 40-day observance for Catholics and other denominations.

Catholics in the United States fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and they do not eat meat or poultry on Fridays during Lent.

Leach said he believes abstaining from certain foods and other favorites allows people to use the extra time for prayer and reflection. "It helps people to become more aware of the presence of God and the needs of the poor," he said.

Since the My Little Pony incident, Laughlin, a psychology major, has faithfully given up something every year. She chose to challenge herself to go without Instant Messenger this Lent and admits it has not been easy.

"I have two good friends that are long distance, so it's just been hard because I can't talk to them every day like I used to," she said. Nearly finished with the season, Laughlin said she thinks she made a good decision.

"I would just spend so much time on IM; now I can use it for quiet time and devotionals," she said. In order to keep up this lifestyle, Laughlin attends InterVarsity bible study and is a member of the Christian sorority Phi Beta Chi.

Freshman exercise and sports science major Jen Talbert agrees that Lent can be a time of increased devotion to God.

Among other things, Talbert, a Baptist, gave up playing solitaire on her computer, and she has found that the free time has been good for strengthening her faith.

As the Lenten period draws to a close, Talbert said she believes she will not be tempted to go back to solitaire. "It made me realize how addicted I was; I don't miss it as much as I thought I would," Talbert said.

Leslee Farish, a freshman political science major, has found a positive twist to the procedure: giving up negative thoughts. "It has made me a much happier person with all the stress from school," she said.

Farish, a Lutheran, tries to maintain a positive outlook at all times and reminds herself what is good in her life.

"It has improved my relationship with God instead of just focusing on the commercial aspects (of Easter) like eggs and chocolate bunnies," Farish said.

But not all Christians commit to abstinence for Lent. Anne Smith, a freshman from Charlotte, has tried to give up things in the past without success. Smith, a Presbyterian, said she still views herself as an active member of the religious community.

"I don't consider myself less of a Christian than anyone else, but in today's busy world it's hard to find something to give up and fully commit myself to," Smith said.

But Laughlin is glad to celebrate the Lenten holiday in her traditional way.

And much like when she got her ponies back, she is excited about the upcoming Easter holiday.

"After Lent, I'll be back to normal."

The Features Editor can be reached at features@unc.edu.

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