The tradition of practicing Lent is not about what you give up but about what you gain, according to local Lent participants.
Kathy Hale sews purple cloth Thursday afternoon in preparation for a Thursday night service at St. Helen Catholic Church. The service honors Jesus Christ's last supper with his disciples. She said the cloth would be placed on the stools in which people would sit to wash each other's feet.
Lent is a six-week period preceding Easter practiced by Christians in which they give up some form of luxury or temptation in their lives to grow closer to God.
Catholiceducation.org describes the period as "a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter."
Portales resident and St. Helen church attendant and care taker Kathy Hale said she gave up eating meat for the six-week period.
"(It is) symbolic to the flesh, that I will choose to no longer live in I, but in he that lives in me," Hale said. "Denying the flesh is denying your will, your desires of the flesh and your hungers of the flesh. To be in the father's will is something he desires us all to be."
Hale said she believes God's will is for her to serve her church by helping with the series of Easter services over the next three days.
"He (God) tells us, if you love me, feed my sheep," Hale said. "Forty days is enough time for a transformation. With Jesus' 40 days of fasting, he had great intimacy with God before he said yes to his messiah mission. That's how it starts (with intimacy with God)."
Hale said St. Helen will spend the next three days re-enacting the last supper, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ now that lent is over, the six weeks having ended Wednesday.
"God calls us to pray with all our beings, so the art, the crucifix, everything you will see, is a visual feeding of prayer, reminding us what he did for us," Hale said of the crosses and artwork of Jesus displayed for the services. "The candles are symbolic that he is the light of the world. Everything is a feeding of prayer."
Eastern New Mexico University freshman Molly Chavez said she has participated in lent since she was a small child.
"Whether it's giving up Facebook or eating bread, no matter what you give up during lent it's about that self-discipline," Chavez said. "When I was a child, I didn't understand what it was about. When I got older, I realized the sacrifices we made in lent were a tribute to what Christ gave up for us."
Chavez said she gave up Facebook and non-Christian music for lent along with fasting every Friday.
"I chose to give up social networking, because I wasted so much time with it," Chavez said. "I tried to turn that into opening up my Bible and or spending that time in prayer. Anything else that was better than being on Facebook."
Chavez said she went from about two hours a day on Facebook to none at all.
She said she gave up non-Christian music, because of the negative messages a lot of modern music sends to young people.
"I think that it got me closer to my goal of being self-disciplined in everything I do, which is really what I wanted this year out of lent," Chavez said. "Lent is a time of preparation for the greatest thing that God gave to us, knowing that someone loved you enough to die for you. If you can focus on that for 40 days, that's a great accomplishment."