Lent in the Modern Day

Matthew Walker ‘23

The time of Lent allows us to prepare for Easter and the Resurrection of Christ in various ways. Traditionally, it is common for many people to give up something they love and to abstain from eating meat on Fridays. Still, as time goes on through the modern era, there are many ways that people can now express their holiness and devotion during the season of Lent. 

Lent was originally a time devoted mainly to penance and reflection on Christ. However, in today’s society, several things such as technology, sports, or personal life can get in the way of devotion and time towards God. Since this is the case, people have several things that they can give up for this season of devotion to God. This gives people the opportunity to give up on a significant distraction to show their devotion during the Lenten season. 

Sacrificing during Lent in the modern era comes with challenges no other generation has dealt with. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many losses to several people, and offering even more can be difficult. However, this helps to show how the Lenten season also represents a time of healing, in addition to fasting and sacrifice. 

Tess Taylor, the author of the poetry collection Work and Days, explains that through her experience during Lent, going to church had become much more difficult due to the widespread effects of the coronavirus in addition to other challenges. But she explains that the time of Lent and COVID taught her that “this season and its sacrifices are rooted in both ecological and communal principles — a practice undertaken by and for community so that people could care for one another and the land in a lean time.”

The time of COVID has been able to teach the modern era that the Lenten season is not only about focusing on the holiness of oneself but turning their attention towards others as well. Doing this would also be much easier through different means such as technology, allowing for more virtual gatherings. This can enable these communities to get closer during the Lenten season in God’s image. 

As people are working towards returning to normal from the COVID outbreak, it has brought a greater sense of appreciation for the opportunities people have to present their holiness during the Lenten season. 

Alissa Wilkinson, a senior reporter and critic at Vox.com, explains the change that the time of the virus has had on people’s attitude towards the season, noting that people are beginning “to add a spiritual practice during the 40 days, such as regular church attendance, prayer, giving to charity, or performing community service.” This statement helps to show the mental change people have undergone in the way they approach the season and to remind us why it is crucial that we not take this season of holiness for granted, especially during these troubling times. 

People today are presented with several different opportunities to grow closer to God through the season of Lent. This includes focusing on small things such as giving up habits that can get in the way of religious devotion. In addition, selfless acts are much more common in the modern era, and high school students are given many more service opportunities. This growing sense of appreciation allows people of this era to grow their relationship with God and others.