Some students fast during Lent

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The month of February recognizes a series of celebrations including Black History Month, American Heart Month, and, earlier this week, Ash Wednesday, which happened to fall on Valentine’s Day this year.

This period of fasting during Lent for some is a way to not only cleanse your heart physically, but spiritually too.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a season of fasting and reflection for many Christians.

On this day, ashes are applied to the foreheads of those participating, in the shape of a cross. It is meant to represent the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made.

This 40-day fast can vary in terms of goods to give up, from food or sugar to social media and television. Students honor this and are excited to start their own. Tamera DePreist, a second-year student at FAMU’s College of Law, says that fasting during Lent reaffirms her faith.

“Jesus fasted for 40 days; he was out there alone. During that time, he was tempted by Satan. It’s important to repent on this day, kind of to imitate Jesus and what he did, to live like him,” DePriest said.

Sophomore and choir member at New Mt. Zion AME Church, Nikiyah Brown, says participating in this is something she feels a need to do.

“It’s the 40-day mark from Jesus dying on the cross for us, so I feel like if he can sacrifice, then we can sacrifice too. It’s a whole lot of reminiscing on what he’s done, and what he’s continuing to do in our lives,” Brown said.

Other students say that they participate for mental clarity and guidance. Junior business student Larry LaFrance says he gave up meat, sugar, and social media during his previous fasts.

“I was extreme with it. I wasn’t eating a lot of stuff, it was really hard. Especially the Instagram part, I was out the loop for a while. I would have to find out about stuff through people,” LaFrance said. “I was proud of myself, I took away that you can live without all these things. I was substituting that for time with Jesus and it was just fulfilling. I got to the point where I got over the not being able to eat certain things and do certain things, I was just comfortable enough in his presence.”

LaFrance believes that fasting should be done when an individual feels it is necessary but it remains a common practice.  According to the American Heart Association,  fasting can increase a key protein that controls inflammation and protects the heart. This practice has also been shown to help prevent obesity, hypertension, and plaque buildup in the heart.

DePreist says she plans to participate in Lent by fasting, and that this occasion is vital.

“Fasting is super important just like praying. Sometimes your judgment can get clouded with all the things life throws at you, so you don’t have the opportunity to hear God’s voice clearly,” said DePriest. “As a follower of Christ, and exemplifying who he is, it is important to focus on him, be in your word, and fast so you can get clarity …Sometimes we have so much going on, so busy, that we can’t focus on God. So, I think clearing out things, and being intentional in your word is a great way to grow in your faith.”