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University prepares for Lent with Masses

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday’s Mardi Gras festivities will die down today as the campus welcomes the solemnity of Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent. For Notre Dame’s Catholic students, this heralds a time of penance and reflection, preparing the University community to celebrate the Easter season. Today many students, like senior Terence Merritt, choose to attend Mass and receive ashes on their forehead with their closest friends – members of their dorms. “I’ll go to Mass in Siegfried because I enjoy celebrating my faith in community with my friends,” Merritt said. Members of Notre Dame’s Protestant and non-Christian communities are also welcome to participate in the Lenten season and to attend services in community with Catholic students.”Although I’m not Catholic, I’ll attend dorm Mass on Ash Wednesday so I can be in community with my brothers in the dorm,” sophomore Jonathan Poelhuis said. However, students like junior Mike Kasalo find the University’s focus on Lent, and the signs posted in dorms reminding students that today is a “day of fasting and abstinence,” unnecessary. “I plan to skip Mass and go out drinking,” Kasalo said. “I don’t think this [season] should cut into my college experience.” Healthy Catholics are instructed to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent, as well to limit themselves to only one full meal and two small snacks on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. As a result, both dining halls do not serve meat on days when it is prohibited by the Catholic Church, although campus restaurants will serve meat.Many Catholic and non-Catholic students complain about the lack of options in the dining hall on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. “It’s absurd that the dining halls only serve fish, especially because [the fish] doesn’t seem any different or better than what they normally serve,” junior Matthew Detwiler said. Still, other students find comfort in the fact that Notre Dame works hard to support Catholic practices. “Since Notre Dame is a Catholic institution, [the University has] the right not to serve meat,” junior Shannon Morrison said. “When people decide to come to Notre Dame, they should realize that Catholic beliefs will even affect things like the dining hall menus.”One Notre Dame student group, the Knights of Columbus, plans to provide an alternative to dining hall dinners on Fridays. The Knights will sponsor a soup and bread dinner at the Knights’ building on South Quad after Stations of the Cross in the Basilica at 7:15 p.m. during the Fridays of Lent.In addition to dorm Masses today, there are Masses in the Basilica at 11:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. There will also be a distribution of ashes at 12:20 p.m. and 6 p.m. and a Mass at 9 p.m. in Regina Chapel at Saint Mary’s. Mass will be held at 12:30 p.m. in the chapel of the Mendoza College of Business.