The University of La Verne provided a bilingual Ash Wednesday service to about 40 students and faculty in the Chapel.
Students and faculty participated in bilingual Bible readings, and University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner and Director of Multicultural Affairs Daniel Loera distributed the ashes.
“It’s a connection of the idea that we come from dust and we return to dust,” Wagoner said.
Participants received ashes in the shape of a cross on their foreheads.
“It’s a symbol of our mortality,” Wagoner said.
The ashes also serve as a reminder that there is only one life to live and to help you reflect on how you want to live that life, Wagoner said.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is celebrated by Catholics and some protestant churches.
Lent leads up to Easter and is modeled after the approximately 40 days Jesus retreated himself into the desert before beginning his ministry, Wagoner said.
The service included a psalm and a reading from the book of Matthew.
Matthew 6:1-6; 16-18 discussed the importance of praying and fasting in private, instead of publicly for everyone to see.
“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by God who is in secret,” the reading said.
Assistant professor of music, James Calhoun then encouraged everyone to sing along to “Spirit of the Living God,” which asks the Holy Spirit to shape and fulfill a person.
“Spirit of the living God, fall a fresh on me,” they sang.
The attendees participated in a litany of forgiveness and renewal of faith.
“For our refusal to see our many blessings and to express our gratitude, forgive us,” the participants chimed in together.
The litany ended with a prayer in preparation to the ashes the participants were about to receive.
“As we feel the ashes upon our skin, bring forth in us a spirit of re-commitment to the things that make for love, compassion, peace and forgiveness,” the prayer said.
Although traditionally people decide to fast or remove something from their life for the 40 days of Lent, it is also an opportunity to add something new and beneficial into your life.
“Lent is also about making space to the holy entering your life,” Wagoner said.
“It means a season of giving up something or doing something more in celebration of the coming of Jesus,” Mirella Bautista, sophomore political science major, said.
“Whether one is adding or fastening, it can help you enlarge your capacity to connect to what is holy,” Wagoner said.
Bautista decided to add more exercise into her life, while Wagoner plans to become more in touch with nature and spend more time outside of buildings.
“It’s nice to have the service here for those who don’t have a car,” Yvette Hernandez, sophomore business major, said.
Students find it more convenient to attend a religious service at school, instead of going to the nearest Catholic church in San Dimas.
With two services at noon and 5 p.m., faculty and students had the option to attend the most suitable time for them.
The University also does this bilingual service because of the large Spanish speaking Catholic community ULV has, Wagoner said.
The service ended with a closing prayer asking God for strength in opening their hearts to a journey back to Him.
Mariela Patron can be reached at email@example.com.