As we approach Holy Week and the end of Lent, journalism student Emmanuelle del Castillo posts this story about the observances of Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesdsay and the Lenten Season
by Emmanuelle del Castillo
Wednesday, February 22, 2012, Ash Wednesday, was a day of recollection for Mount Angel seminarians. A day of recollection is a day when one focuses on the spiritual aspect of life. Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season. The Mass for Ash Wednesday was celebrated in the Abbey Church by Bishop Burns of the Diocese of Juneau. The bishop also held the retreat of the day for the seminarians.
Though there are no classes on Ash Wednesday, Mount Angel seminarians started the day with Morning Prayer and the distribution of ashes in the Abbey Church. Two conferences were held by Bishop Burns. Then in the evening seminarians had exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The last event was the Stations of the Cross. Experiences were positive as Neil Guan, a seminarian for the Diocese of Las Vegas said, "It was an excellent day to not have classes but to focus [on] our start of the Lenten season."
The topic that Bishop Burns talked about revolved around what is to be expected with the priesthood. One of the subjects the bishop talked about was the reminders of the sacrifices of the priesthood. As Matthew Olsen of the Diocese of Fresno said, "It is very nice of Bishop Burns as he sets our mood for the Lenten Season and to be referring to Scripture."
The Lenten season, a period of forty days of fasting and preparation for Easter, includes different forms of fasting. Fasting may be permanently observed throughout one's life or be temporary and occur throughout the forty days. To fast is to deprive oneself of things or actions that are not needed and to concentrate more deeply in prayer. Some fasting examples are waking up earlier to pray, giving up favorite drinks or food, and using less free time.