By Betsy Pray
Let the Lenten season begin.
This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, signaling the start of Lent, a 40-day season in the Christian liturgical calendar preceding the Easter season.
The tradition of Ash Wednesday consists of ashes being put on the forehead in the shape of a cross. The ashes come from the palms of Palm Sunday the year before. Four services were held Wednesday in the university chapel and Merton Center for people to receive ashes.
Julianne Wallace, associate director of faith formation, worship and ministry for University Ministries, explained the meaning of Ash Wednesday.
“Catholics and other Christians use the sign of ash to remember where we came from; that we are the dust and dirt from Earth,” Wallace said.
Lent presents three different tasks for Catholics: prayer, fasting and almsgiving, Wallace said. Prayer means taking extra time out of the day to pray, fasting consists of giving something up for Lent and almsgiving means giving back to society and the world.
When it comes to fasting, Wallace said be people can do more than giving up something to keep with their Lenten promises.
“Fasting is not really to deprive ourselves, but to remember that it’s not all about the things in life that we have,” Wallace said. “A lot of people struggle with what to give up. For me, I normally don’t give something up, I give something back.”
Bonaventure students have varied plans on how they’re spending their Lenten season.
Chaelon Brennan, a junior accounting major, said her goal is to give up swearing. “Brother Ross said today [Ash Wednesday] that we can give up something so we can enjoy it once more when Christ has risen,” Brennan said. “While that is true, I have no intention of bringing back my terrible language unless the word is truly necessary in a situation; the reality is I just thought I sounded cool.”
Junior childhood studies major Christina D’Onofrio shared her plans to participate.
“I guess you could say Lent is like my New Year’s,” D’Onofrio said. “This year I have decided not to give up something, but instead take on something. I want to increase the prayer in my life. I’m going to go to prayerful yoga on campus every Tuesday night at 9. I want to do something that will have a lasting effect.”
Father Francis Di Spigno O.F.M., executive director of University Ministries, offered insight to Lent and the meaning behind it.
“Lent is a retreat.” Father Francis said. “It causes us to pull back from how we would normally be living our life and to really look at what we hold as important.”
Father Francis emphasized the Lenten season is about more than just fasting.
“Most of the time people think of Lent as a time to give something up,” Father Francis said. “It is, but it’s not in a sense of because we want to suffer; we do this because that is what helps us change things up.”
This year, University Ministries is running a program during Lent called “Make It Known: Share your faith through peace and service,” geared at encouraging students to show their faith in different ways.
Sophomore education major Brianna Wilson expressed her excitement for the campaign.
“University Ministries is really excited about our theme for Lent this year,” Wilson, the lector coordinator for the liturgy committee, said. “‘Make It Known’ is something everyone in the Bonaventure community can participate in because it focuses on the importance of peace and service.”
The program will feature two weekly events to celebrate Lent in both a tradition and non-traditional ways. Stations of the Cross will be held Wednesdays at 4 p.m., and candlelight yoga will take place on Tuesdays at 9 p.m., both in the university chapel. Student reflections will also be given during mass in place of the homilies. University Ministries will distribute purple and white tie-dyed bracelets at mass and in the Hickey next week to students as a way to spread awareness.
“I think it’s just a great time for our campus as a whole to think about how we can make our lives known and how that can contribute to our world in a positive way,” Wallace said. “We want to go out and be peace-filled people in the world.”