Ash Wednesday has come and gone, and Lent has officially begun. Pack up your meats on selective days of the week and give up one of your many bad habits for just 40 days. As someone who was raised Catholic, I remember growing up with this tradition, which I now realize is a bit strange with oddly specific rules if you’ve never heard of it. Although, let’s be honest, in the United States, Christian theology dominates, and while I’m sure there might be some people that don’t know exactly what Lent is, I won’t deny that there is a very real Christian-privilege, which includes the fact that our traditions are at the forefront of everything, especially in the media.
It’s been a few years since I’ve actually participated in Lent, but since my suite is fairly religiously-diverse, I thought it might be nice to try and partake in my own traditions. Over the last few weeks, I have been attending interfaith events such as Shabbat and Juma, and since one of my suitemates is a devout Catholic, I have begun to rethink my position on my own religious traditions.
I’m still not particularly religious–it’s probably been a decade since I’ve gone to mass every Sunday morning. But considering the world, particularly when it comes to the politics of religion right now, understanding the traditions and ideas of other religions should go hand in hand with reflecting on your own religion and its traditions. Two of my suitemates work for the Chaplaincy and have been trying to do just that, integrating the ideas of Islam and Christianity when it comes to the Virgin Mary (check out their fire discussion coming up on Sunday March 12 at 5pm at the Interfaith Center).
Whether you give up something or not, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it—is it for Jesus, your spirituality, or something else? It doesn’t really matter, so long as you take the time to reflect on the why as well as on how other religions might do things similarly or differently, and work towards a greater understanding.