Ash Wednesday, noted on February 14 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. was a beautiful and meaningful day of reflection and prayer for students, faculty and staff of all faiths who chose to receive the Lenten ashes distributed in the Eleanor Wilson Room. “Repent and Believe the Good News,” was said by the distributor of ashes as each person received the blessed ashes from burned palms used to celebrate Palm Sunday in 2017. Ash Wednesday is a day that reminds us we are forgiven and loved by God and called to holiness.

Each person receiving ashes also was given a small decorative heart they could wear as a celebration of Saint Valentine. Tradition says Valentinus was a third century Roman priest martyred under the oppressive Emperor Claudius II. Valentinus gave out notes of love to the discouraged and imprisoned and performed Christian marriage ceremonies for young couples. The last time Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday occurred together on the same day was 1945.

Conversation and prayer together around renewal and trust in God’s loving forgiveness were some of the themes shared throughout the day. Many asked for prayers for special intentions. Several made a contribution of an inspirational thought or drawing to a reflective collage. The reflection provided included the words of the prophet Isaiah about fasting: “This rather is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn and your wound shall quickly be healed...” (Excerpts from Isaiah Chapter 58)

Pope Francis calls us to fasting from hurting words, sadness, anger, pessimism, worry, complaints, pressures, bitterness, selfishness and grudges. Fasting from favorite foods like chocolate is matched by these challenging behaviors!

Distributers of Ashes with Dr. Ellen O’Shaughnessy, director of Campus Ministry, included Erin Daugherty, MSN, RN, CPNP, associate professor; Mary Yoder, MS, RN, instructor; Jill Kilanowski PhD, RN, APRN, CPNP, FAAN, associate dean of the Graduate Program and professor; and Campus Ministry students Cameron Duke, Rebecca Bujnoch and Aaron James Peren.

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