This time of year one often overhears people discussing what kinds of things they are giving up for Lent. Of course you have the little kids giving up something they dislike to begin with such as peas. Then you have the kind of people who give up chocolate. You will sometimes hear really ambitious people give up something like any kind of dessert or television or instant messenger. Once in a blue moon you may even hear a college student say that they will give up alcohol for 40 days (for you second semester seniors, I'll believe this when I see it). In my family we take a slightly different approach to the Lenten season.
Though many people would not guess this about me, I am far from optimistic. I think I have inherited this less-than-sunny outlook from my father. If the phone rings at home after 10 p.m., he immediately assumes the worst and says "Who died?" or a personal favorite when things are grim, "Stop the world. I want to get off." The past few years around Lent, he and I have decided that rather than giving up something tangible we should give up our pessimistic attitudes. We try and look at the brighter side of things and become "glass is half-full" kind of people for at least 40 days.
Despite our valiant efforts and the encouragement we give one another on our quest for positive attitudes during this season, it is sometimes difficult to do so. It is at these times, when optimism does not seem to be enough, that my dad always says, "Just say a little prayer." No matter what time of year, this little saying is a constant comfort to me. The power of prayer is something that all of us can turn to no matter how insignificant or grave a worry of ours may be.
It seems to me that many of us lose sight of why we chose to go to Holy Cross, Saint Mary's and Notre Dame to begin with. Sure there are the obvious reasons such as great academic reputations or legendary athletic teams to cheer on, but what about the fact that these are great Catholic institutions? I don't doubt that many of us decided upon these schools because we wanted to be a part of an environment that embraces the morals and values of the Church. Nevertheless, we all get stressed from time to time about our grades, futures and relationships, be it with friends, family or significant others. Though it's normal to worry or complain to anyone who is willing to listen, why not say a little prayer? We are all lucky enough to be a part of community that embraces the Catholic tradition - a tradition that teaches us that there is always someone we can to turn to.
It is not surprising that these four years can be overwhelming at times when one considers the fact that we are on our own for the first time and trying to plan for our futures by declaring majors, finding jobs or getting accepted into graduate schools. On top of this, many of us have to deal with greater tribulations such as the loss of loved ones or failed relationships. It is at these times that a prayer can be the greatest comfort of all. There comes a time when ambition and positive thinking only goes so far. When no matter how much we may want to help or succeed, there is nothing we can do. These are the times when one should turn to the power of prayer.
Of course this is not to say that one should stop studying and just pray to do well on a test. Nor should you pray that you get a convertible for your birthday. It is just that with our hectic lives it is easy to loose touch with what's important. In this season that is meant to be a time of reflection and repentance the role of prayer plays a very significant part. No matter what it is you are praying for, if you have a little faith then you can trust that everything will be okay. Take it from a pessimist, when things seem hopeless there is no greater comfort than knowing that you've got God on your side. After all, he is the Almighty.
Molly Acker is a senior communication studies and humanistic studies double major at Saint Mary's. She can be contacted at email@example.com
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer