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Faithful Receive Ashes, Give Back on Ash Wednesday

by Julia Briar ’25 Feb 16, 2024

Students, faculty, and staff across campus marked the beginning of the Lenten season with prayer, reflection, and service.  

The distribution of ashes began early as Campus Ministry hosted services throughout the day in Connelly Chapel. Ash Wednesday signifies the start of Lent, which is the remembrance of the 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert before his crucifixion.

“It’s a good reminder while entering the beginning of Lent of what is important and that there’s more to life than just our day-to-day affairs.”

 Nicholas Manidia ’24, chemistry major and theology minor

The three pillars of Lent are fasting, prayer, and almsgiving—sharing what we have with those in need. Mercy and forgiveness—acknowledging, receiving, and giving—are a central part of the Lenten journey. Members of the Church also typically sacrifice something during this time. James Cook ’26, a medical studies major, is giving up sweets and set a goal to pray every night. Cook received his ashes to signify both repentance and death.

“Showing that God died for me but also that death is at the end for me, and that we need to ‘Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return,’” Cook said. “That will be how we will all end, something only Jesus has been able to overcome as he rose again on the third day.”

In addition to Mass and the distribution of ashes, Campus Ministry also hosted a service project to bring students together. They made sandwiches and Valentine’s Day notes for local shelters.

“I think that holding a community service event on Ash Wednesday is a good way to live out the almsgiving aspect of Lent,” said Mariel Sajan ’25, a medical studies major who is giving up social media for the next 40 days. “We have a moral duty to help those in need, and this event is a small yet substantial way of doing so.”