Local youth explain tradition of Lent

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: Fourth-graders Kaylee Jennings and A.J. Reid work on their calendars in class after receiving ashes during all-school mass Wednesday morning. According to Fr. Karl Barmann, the tradition on Ash Wednesday of marking the forehead with the sign of the cross in ashes from burning the palms of the previous Palm Sunday is “our sign of pennance and asking for forgiveness of our sins.”

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: Fourth-graders Kaylee Jennings and A.J. Reid work on their calendars in class after receiving ashes during all-school mass Wednesday morning. According to Fr. Karl Barmann, the tradition on Ash Wednesday of marking the forehead with the sign of the cross in ashes from burning the palms of the previous Palm Sunday is “our sign of pennance and asking for forgiveness of our sins.”

As the Lenten season kicked off this week with its traditions of personal sacrifice and introspective observation, a number of students at St. Peter School in Fulton took the opportunity to share their take on the 40-day lead-in to Easter.

“It’s about giving things up for God and making sacrifices and fasting,” said seventh-grader Baileigh Horstmeier of Fulton, who is giving up junk food and soda. “It shows what Jesus did for us and what we can give back for him.”

Eighth-grader Austin Wilson of Fulton said he was giving up the Little Debbie snack cakes he usually eats as an after-school snack because Lent “is about putting Jesus first.”

“A lot of times it’s more about Little Debbie snack cakes and less about Jesus time,” Wilson said. “Lent is about putting Jesus first on our list.”

“The purpose of Lent is to fast how Jesus fasted,” seventh-grader Kate Haarmann of Fulton said in reference to the Biblical story of Jesus going into the desert and going without food or water for 40 days and 40 nights.

“We observe Lent in preparation for Jesus’ death and resurrection and because he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and was tempted by the Devil,” agreed classmate John Burch, who said he is giving up junk food because “I figure I eat a lot of that.”

Fifth-grader Tanner Pezold of Hatton said he too was going to try to give up soda because “Jesus had to go out into the desert, and he didn’t have anything.”

That idea of giving up something important to them, or a habit that is hard to give up as an echo of Jesus’ sacrifices was echoed by several other students.

“I’m giving up biting my fingernails, because it’s time to break the habit. And Lent is a time to think more about other people or Jesus than ourselves,” said fifth-grader Katherine Holmes of Fulton.

“I’m giving up soda, because I usually have like, three cans a day,” said sixth-grader Shay Arms of Fulton. “Jesus gave up stuff when he went in the desert and he died for us, so he deserves some respect.”

Sixth-grader Luke Berrey of Fulton said he was giving up fighting with his sister and popcorn.

“You give up something that would be hard because God gave up something hard,” Berrey said.

“It’s a time that you give up something because Jesus prayed for 40 days,” agreed fourth-grader Destri Dungan of Fulton. “I’m giving up TV shows except for movies, and I will help load and unload the dishes, because it was hard for Jesus; he died on the cross for us.”

Third-grader Adam Albaugh of Fulton said he is giving up candy because “I eat it like, every day,” but said the sacrifice is the least he can do.

“If Jesus gave up his life for us, we should be able to give up things for him,” Albaugh said. “Lent is about making sacrifices for God.”

If the answers all sound similar, it simply means they have been paying attention during religion class and when Fr. Karl Barmann gives his homilies.

“Lent is basically a period of 40 days of preparation for Easter. It’s a traditional time of prayer and fasting that Christians and Catholics are called to do,” Barmann said. “It’s a spiritual time of renewal to follow the Lord more fully by a traditional time of prayer, fasting and alms giving.

“It’s a spiritual house-cleaning if you will. It’s a call to a conversion of the heart back to the Lord ... a transformation of our will to do the will of God by putting Christ in a more central part of our life.”

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