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Klonsinski: Season of sacrifice

| Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Having been raised Roman Catholic, I always thought Lent was supposed to be a time for self-denial and personal growth. Why then, does Notre Dame take this potential away during Lent?

Notre Dame is a Catholic institution — we all know this. And Lent is one of the most important times of the Catholic year. Catholics are supposed to refrain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, the official beginning of Lent, and then also every Friday until Easter. I respect this tradition and clearly remember participating as a child.

One year I gave up peanut butter and another I gave up pizza. Both of these were difficult for me because one, they are each two of my favorite foods, and two, they were both extremely present in my daily life. The year I gave up pizza I went to a Catholic elementary school that offered pizza every Tuesday and Thursday for lunch.

I was one of those kids who ate ‘hot-lunch’ every day, so this posed a challenge for me since I had to make sure to have my own lunch on those days.

Both of these Lenten sacrifices helped me develop my willpower and cognizance of what I did every day, and I still greatly respect this Catholic tradition, even if I do not participate now.

My problem is that Notre Dame has taken away personal choice, temptation and the opportunity to slip up away from its students in the dining halls.

How are all the Catholics not insulted by Notre Dame’s actions with the dining hall menus? By removing meat from the dining halls on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent, Notre Dame essentially rids its students of all opportunity to falter in the Catholic fasting tradition.

When Jesus was sent into the desert, he didn’t just have to survive. Satan was there to tempt Jesus, and Jesus had to remain steadfast in the face of this adversity, thereby establishing the inspiration for the tradition as it exists today.

Notre Dame students face no such qualm in the dining halls nowadays. To me, it seems this tradition loses all meaning under such conditions.

As a non-Catholic now, I most notably feel the effects on my Flex Points account going other places around campus on Fridays, but this is a mere inconvenience easily worked around.

For Catholics though, shouldn’t this lack of temptation cause some sort of inner conflict? Or is it another way one of the religion’s practices is done solely for the sake of doing and lacking a deeper meaning? To Notre Dame is it nothing more than empty ritual?

Lent isn’t about making things easier. Why aren’t these questions being asked?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A History graduate, Zach spent all four of his years on campus as a resident of Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Hockey, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus. You can contact him in his post-graduation travels and job search at [email protected]

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