“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” was murmured over and over again on Wednesday as around 100 students, faculty, staff, and community members were marked with ash crosses on their foreheads. Reverend Shawn Garvey and Father Jose Rodrigues presided over the multi-faith lunchtime service in Knowles Chapel.
Though many people associate Ash Wednesday with Catholicism, many other denominations take part in the tradition. On Wednesday, people of many different Christian faiths, including Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Congregationalists gathered in the chapel. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the forty days leading up to Easter, known as the season of Lent. The holiday promotes repentance, reflection, and contemplation.
“It’s the beginning of a time of introspection and meditation that leads up, on the church calendar, to the 40 days prior to Easter—really sort of hearkening back to that original story of when Jesus went out into the dessert, before he began his ministry, to pray and to discern what God was calling him to do,” said Shawn Garvey, Reverend at First Congregational Church of Winter Park and the Interim Dean of the Chapel.
The service was short, only lasting thirty minutes, including scripture readings, hymns, a sermon, and then the traditional marking of the cross in ash by the priests on the many attendants’ foreheads.
“This was phenomenal. We printed 75 bulletins, and I think we used all of them,” said Garvey.
During Lent, many Christians choose to partake in a fast, during which they can give up something. Some of the most popular things to give up are chocolates, smoking, alcohol, candy, red meat, junk food, soda, TV, and Netflix.
“Life doesn’t always give people the things they would like. So when we give something up it kind of makes us one with those people who have nothing or less. . . Really all we need is sustenance, and everything else is extra and a blessing,” said Father Jose Rodriguez, a local priest and leader of Rollins’ Canterbury Club.
Other events coming up for the Lenten season are dialogues with Christian organizations, such as Canterbury Club’s “Theology on Tap” event, when they plan to discuss Lent. There also will be a Good Friday service at 12:15 p.m.. Easter is on April 5 this year, and there will be a sunrise service by the lake.