On March 2, groups of SF State students walked to St. Stephen’s Catholic Church a block away from campus to receive ashes in commemoration of Ash Wednesday.
They entered the church through arched entryways amid stained-glass windows to attend mass.
As the service came to an end, they stepped out of the church with a cross made of sacred ashes smudged on their foreheads, marking the beginning of Lent.
Lent is described as a religious season consisting of 40 days to reflect on daily temptations. During this period, it is common for Catholics to refrain from a designated personal pleasure to show their dedication to God.
Sunday marked the end of Lent and the beginning of Easter. SF State students reflected on what they did for Lent and their struggle to stay connected to their Catholic faith.
“I think Lent is one of my favorite seasons because it’s hard and there’s some rules to remember but it’s very unifying,” said Sebastian Gomez, a graduate student at SF State.
SF State senior Ana Prado expressed that there is a deeper meaning to this period of time.
“We reflect on our sins and what we can change,” Prado said. “We’re sacrificing something to bring us closer to God.”
But after two years of COVID-19 restrictions, students have struggled to stay connected to their faith–some giving the religion up altogether.
“People have been really affected by the lockdown and not being able to go to mass in person,” Gomez said. “And it’s hard so much so that they lose interest and they lose interest to pray and it’s not their fault.”
A student who wished to remain anonymous due to fear of being disowned by her parents, expressed how the pandemic affected her relationship with religion.
“When the pandemic started, we went back home and everything went online,” she said. “That’s when I started to realize how much I was faking it and it made me realize that ever since I was a kid, I never truly believed.”
She expressed that she felt forced to follow her religion and stray away from their individualistic choices.
“It’s like we code switch,” she said. “We do all these things that aren’t true and we adapt to our environments to make other people comfortable.”
With the end of Lent, Easter acts as the opening celebration to new beginnings for some.
“Easter is crazy fun,” Gomez said. “40 days of sacrifice is really intense, so Easter is the time to just take what you learned and either take it to another level or just celebrate.”