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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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My first Lent as a converted Catholic

Battalion+news+editor+Katy+Stapp%2C+who+converted+to+Catholicism+this+past+November%2C+is+observing+Lent+for+the+first+time+as+a+Catholic+this+year.
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Battalion news editor Katy Stapp, who converted to Catholicism this past November, is observing Lent for the first time as a Catholic this year.

As a Protestant growing up with a lot of Catholic friends, I always “practiced” Lent each year because it was fun to try and give something up, or to see how long I could go without something. TV, candy, soda and — one year — skipping school, all took their turn as habits I tried to sweep under the rug for six weeks, only to be uncovered the day after Easter, if I even made it that far.
Nov. 8 marked my first day as a converted Catholic, the first day of a new lifestyle. That day I was baptized, confirmed and received my first Communion in the Catholic Church in front of the curious eyes of my primarily Protestant family. Eight months before that, in my second semester of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, I tried my first Lent as an “almost-Catholic,” and the 40 days took on a much more sacred meaning.
For last year’s Lent, I felt like it was my responsibility to give something up that would make me a better person in some way. I ended up giving up Netflix, because I thought it took up a chunk of my time that could be used to better myself with studying, being with my family and friends and coming closer to God. It was a good effort for my “practice round” of Lent, and I ended up making it all the way to Easter before I plunged back into binge watching. But I know I can do better this year.
This year, in his Lenten Message, Pope Francis suggests that instead of giving up the usuals — alcohol, carbs and candy — for Lent, try giving up being indifferent to others. In his 2013 Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis writes, “Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.”
For my first Lent as a converted Catholic, I’ve decided to take the Pope’s advice. Trying to understand the struggles of others, practicing forgiveness and welcoming strangers are all parts of my life that I want to improve on. It is easy to ignore the struggles of a friend or complete stranger when wrapped up in my own struggles, but as a Catholic, I am called to live out Christ’s love and mercy in every action, thought and word — to be a source of genuine kindness and care.
The Lenten season is a time for atonement and sacrifice. I’ve often seen it used as a time to give up something trivial for personal betterment only to pick up the habit again later, but as a newly converted Catholic with a fresh commitment to the faith, I think it’s a better time to do good for others through sacrifice. And, more importantly, to make an effort to keep that commitment after Easter Sunday.
Giving up luxuries like binge watching and fast food is one way to grow into a better a person and touch the spirit of Lent. But if you want to truly see how the Lenten season can change a life, change your heart — fast from indifference towards others, and make room in your soul for love.
Katy Stapp is an
English senior and
news editor for
The Battalion.

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