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Lent equals sacrifice, not fascism

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, February 26, 2004

They even took the bacon bits? Those fascist pigs. How dare they try to impose a belief system that only 85 percent of the student population believes in? How dare those who claim to run the University in the best interests of the students deny their Atkins-happy charges of all that protein in favor of promoting the very values upon which the University was founded? It’s forced religion, oppression and the beginning of a neo-fascist movement spearheaded by the Pope himself -or maybe just Bill Kirk.

Or maybe it’s Lent and another freshman class got the surprise of their college careers when they walked into the dining halls on Wednesday. First of all, Notre Dame didn’t continue down any slippery slope or cross any line by removing meat from the dining halls in observance of the Lenten season – this isn’t a new tactic they’re using to ruin the best four years of your life. And second, they’re not forcing anyone to practice Catholicism – if they wanted to do that they would drag you to Mass, kicking and screaming, and shove the Eucharist down your throat.

The Lenten season was not created to promote a vegetarian lifestyle. Nor was it conceived to force Catholic beliefs upon unsuspecting freshmen. Most people associate the words reflection, penance, prayer, preparation, humility and sacrifice with Lent, not fascism. Notre Dame is a highly spiritual community. Over 150 Masses a week, chapels in every dorm and a tradition rooted in the Christian faith. You knew that coming in. Accepting the invitation to attend Notre Dame is accepting an education that stems from that faith. And that doesn’t stay in the classroom.

Chris Vierig “was offended and angry” when he walked into the dining hall on Ash Wednesday. I was offended and angry when I read his letter on Thursday because I don’t know if he appreciates where he is. Whether you’re a Catholic who doesn’t like sacrificing your chicken patties or a non-Catholic student, please realize that the University does what it does to promote its values and teachings, and in this case, try and remind you what sacrifice truly means. If you’re not up for all that, fine. No one is going to force you. Go over to LaFortune and partake of the many fine eateries that will gladly serve you all the meat you want on any given Friday between now and Easter. But don’t write letters criticizing Notre Dame administrators. Instead of complaining about what the University is taking away from you this Lenten season, look around and realize what they’re giving you.

Jeremy SonyalumniClass of 2001Feb. 25