Short-term intent in sacrifice for Lent

By Angela Hernandez


My mom and sister glared at the fresh-baked dinner rolls that were placed in the middle of the table by the waitress. I, on the other hand admired their strong will as I chowed down on the bread.

I’ve never seen strong will work its hardest until I was old enough to fully understand Lent. When I was younger I was aware a person should give up something as a type of sacrifice to mirror the sacrifice Jesus made for humanity.

This year for Lent my mom and sister, Amy, gave up bread, tortillas, rice, red meat and sodas. As a Hispanic I was shocked since these items make up a good amount of our diet. My first thought was that my mom was tired of cooking for the family and soon I was going to have live off of Top Ramen until Easter came along.

It wasn’t until we went to the grocery store that I knew they were serious. Every aisle we walked through my mom and Amy kept their heads held high while walking, never once looking at the typical foods we usually purchase. It was astounding how their goal never wavered when a creature of habit could have reared its head. I didn’t really understand how religion or faith could keep someone so strong.

How could a person keep their promise they made during Lent with the church but can break a promise they make to themselves in a New Year’s resolution? Is it the length of the change? Or who the promise is made with?

It is easy to break a promise we make to ourselves because letting ourselves down isn’t a relatively new thing. When it comes to breaking a promise made before God, it may be something to avoid because it comes with an amount of guilt we might not be able to live down. Giving up something for Lent only lasts 40 days, which is a relatively small amount of time when compared to a New Year’s resolution that involves keeping a promise or a goal in mind for a whole year.

I’ve never been a traditional Catholic. Sure I was baptized as a child but after that I never went to church or had my first communion. Although most people I know were devout Catholics they never seemed to mind that I didn’t follow all the traditional ideals of the denomination. My grandma always made sure I practiced the different traditions and always remained respectful to not just my religion, but to all. I don’t always understand traditions at times.

With all honesty I can say I have never truly given up anything for Lent but I do refrain from eating meat on Fridays. Even though I don’t give anything up for Lent, I’ll try to better myself in some way whether it is directly related to me or to a greater cause. One year I decided to do more volunteer work. Another year I wanted to donate more things to more causes. This year I decided to eat more salads.

I never wanted to give up food for Lent because I personally didn’t want to use my faith as a way to diet but I could see why it’s done. In the case of my mom and sister, they gave up something out of habit in order to make a sacrifice. In Hispanic culture, food is a habit and a comfort, so it is a sacrifice to give up food. Also it reflects the struggle Jesus went through when he went without food.

When Lent is used as I diet, I think the meaning of the process is lost and it kind of disappoints me that not enough people are self-motivated to live a healthy lifestyle for themselves. So I guess the whole tradition is confusing no matter how I look at it.

I am happy my mom and sister are finally practicing healthy living, but I hope they continue to after Easter.


E-mail Hernandez at

Leave a Reply