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No coffee, no films, more contemplation

Students and the forty days of Lent

No sweets, no alcohol, no Facebook. The forty days of Lent before Easter, are traditionally a time of fasting, but is there anyone who takes fasting serious in 2012? Students from Tafelstraat 13 exercise restraint during these weeks.

According to the Church, imposing physical restrictions creates spiritual space.

Tafelstraat 13, the Maastricht Ecumenical Student Chaplaincy, gives it a contemporary twist: fasting is about self-reflection. Students are encouraged to take a critical look at themselves. A look at their habits. Whether they are stuck in a routine. To test themselves, impose restrictions and see what happens.

“Our Christian student association Lux ad Mosam has a Facebook page,” says Law student Thomas Hoekstra. “There has been precious little activity here the past few weeks. Personally, I have decided not to drink any coffee during Lent. Although I was afraid it might make me terribly sullen, it has not been too bad.”

Chaplain Arie de Fijter is enjoying his coffee, while Thomas tells his story. De Fijter: “I'm still drinking coffee. But I abstain from alcohol during these forty days. Although I must admit that I went to a drink recently and had already had a beer before I realised. I have also decided not to watch any films or TV series. It is not that I am against it, but I discovered that it was a boring habit. Now I have more time for other activities and spiritual reflection. Fasting is not just refraining from something, you also get something back.”

Student Johanna Gröne and her husband temporarily eat no meat or chocolate. “What I miss most, is the chocolate. When we celebrate Easter here at the Tafelstraat, I take the chocolate Easter eggs with me! What always strikes me during Lent, is that it's not all that difficult to do without certain things. It's nice to know that.”

“Fasting should not be easy,” comments another student. “I could make an agreement with myself not to eat any liquorice for forty days, but if you don't like liquorice anyway, there is little point. My fasting is in the shape of a cross: the horizontal line stands for interpersonal relationships, the vertical one for the relationship between God and man. Horizontally, I watch what I eat. Students are easily inclined to resort to fast food. I have also decided to visit my grandpa and grandma more often. Vertical fasting is different: this way, I hope to improve myself as a human being. I noticed that I often told little lies, did not always listen to others very well, and liked to place myself in the centre of attention. So now I don't lie anymore and give others the opportunity to tell their story.”


Iris Fraikin



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