By: Caitlin Schneider – Staff Writer
During Lent, it is common for Christians to give something up or set a spiritual goal for themselves. For the past three years, some University of Dayton students have chosen to participate in a different approach with UD’s Lenten Challenge. Participants give up something new each week of Lent, based on of a fasting schedule provided for them by the challenge’s host, UD Campus Ministry.
The aim of the challenge is for students to sacrifice normal, everyday things in order to learn about themselves and to strengthen their relationships with God. This year, the challenge was organized by Amanda Stewart, graduate assistant for campus liturgy.
In 2013, a former graduate assistant for liturgy in campus ministry, Kate Matthews, created the original UD Lenten Challenge. That year, students were asked to create their own 40-day lenten challenge, but now students are encouraged to follow a fasting schedule provided for them.
According to Stewart, Lenten fasting programs at other universities inspired her, so she based a majority of UD’s fasting schedule on other universities’ schedules.
The first week was a “beverage fast,” which challenged students to avoid all non-water beverages. The second week was the “complaining, gossiping and swearing fast.” The third week was the “random spending fast,” which encouraged students to purchase only necessities. Week four is “choose your challenge,” week five is a “sweets fast” and week six is a “social media fast.”
Sophomore religious education major Abbey Saurine is currently participating in the challenge. She said giving up beverages and complaining, gossiping and swearing were all very difficult. Even though she did not feel completely successful those weeks, the challenges still made her aware of some of the changes she needs to make in her life.
“One question that keeps coming up in my mind these past few weeks is ‘To whom do I belong?’ and I think that at times I belong to social media, my appearance or my school work rather than God,” Saurine said. “I hope by the end of Lent I am able to say I am on the path to belonging to Christ and not the world, and I think that all of these challenges are going to help me do that.”
Senior operations and supply chain management major Ryan Mulligan is also participating in the challenge this year, but he changed a few of the week’s tasks to things that are more personal and challenging to him.
“I’ve tried to think of each week as its own sort of Lent,” Mulligan said. “That way in my head, I can focus solely on removing the distraction of the week out of my daily routine.”
For the first week, instead of doing the beverage fast, Mulligan decided to give up his bed. Mulligan said the reason he is participating in the UD Lenten Challenge is to refocus on God. The challenge has allowed him to name distractions in his everyday life and remove them in order to seek God more fully, clearly and passionately.
During each week’s fast, students are encouraged to collect the money that they would have spent on what they gave up, and donate it to the Lenten Almsgiving Collection. The Lenten Almsgiving Collection is a yearly collection organized by a campus ministry committee. All proceeds are donated to the Marianist Programs Abroad to serve those in India and Africa.
“When giving up something for Lent, it is important to have a greater purpose other than ‘because that’s what I’m supposed to do,’” Stewart said. “Lent challenges us to sacrifice and step out of our normal routine in order to think more critically about what we do and why we do it.”
According to Mary Niebler, associate director for the coordinator of cross-cultural immersions, Campus Ministry has collected about $2,000 dollars so far this year for the Lenten Almsgiving Collection.
For more information about the UD Lenten Challenge visit @UDLiturgies on Twitter or Campus Ministry’s Facebook page.