For Christians around the world, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent. This year, Ash Wednesday will fall on Feb. 26, and the Office of Campus Ministry will be holding 2 services and a Mass for the Kean community.
"Ashes are a sign of repentance and a reminder of our humble ends," said Campus Minister Mariama Roldan. "We wear these ashes on our foreheads, at the beginning of Lent, as an outward symbol of our inward disposition, that we 'put to death' our old ways, our old life, so that we can be brought to new life in Jesus Christ."
Kean's Ash Wednesday events are as follows:
- Service at noon at the Downs Hall Conference Center
- Mass at 3:30 p.m. at the Downs Hall Conference Center
- Service 5 p.m. at the Downs Hall Conference Center
"The heart of the Christian message is that Jesus Christ died for us, so that we may be brought to new life in Him, and Lent, starting with Ash Wednesday, is the perfect time to get back to that foundational message," said Roldan.
The Lenten season ends with Easter Sunday, 46 days later. Within that period, observing Christians hold a tradition of fasting, alms giving and increased prayer. This is all with the intention to reorder one's life, to reorient it around Christ.
"By engaging in the practices of Lent, we begin to see the profound truth of the salvation that Jesus Christ bought for us on the cross, and the victory that Easter Sunday truly is. To get to the joy of Easter, we must go through the season of Lent, and that is exactly what makes it so meaningful," said Roldan.
Roldan mentioned some ways to prepare for Lent:
"First, if you are a Catholic - examine your life, where have you strayed from God, where have you ignored Him or tucked Him aside? Bring these to Him in Confession and receive the Sacrament of Healing to begin Lent with a heart turned towards Him. Second - choose one intentional act each of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving," said Roldan.
Roldan noted that, when choosing what to fast from for Lent, students should consider giving up something that is taking away too much time or focus from God. Fasting may also be done as an act of sacrifice or self-discipline.
Some examples of things people may fast from include:
- social media
- video games
In addition to fasting, Christians are encouraged to increase their prayer during Lent. This can be done by spending more time reading Scripture, spending more time in mental prayer, praying devotionals and more.
Christians also practice more almsgiving, which is considered the practice of charity by way of giving one's time, talent or money to others. Examples of almsgiving could be donating to a charity, volunteering or writing kind letters to friends everyday.
Christians often spend some time prior to Lent carefully considering how best to observe the holiday, according to their specific needs.
"Lastly, it can be discouraging if we struggle or fail at our Lenten sacrifices, but whenever you struggle, recall the words of St. Josemaria Escriva, as he said that 'a saint is a sinner that keeps trying,'" said Roldan. "So, continue to try this Lent, and be encouraged that you are not alone and that God knows the plans He has for you (Jer 29:11), and that Lent can be a season of newness and growth when we give it a chance."
For more information, students can contact the Office of Campus Ministry by email at email@example.com or phone at (908) 737-4835. Students can also check out their Cougar Link or visit their office at Downs Hall, Room 130.