Ash Wednesday Services Mark Start of Lenten Season

The Merrimack community and Christians around the globe today are observing Ash Wednesday, the official start of the Season of Lent, a 40-day period for penance suggested by Christ's 40 days in the desert.

The primary theme of this year’s campus celebration, “From Broken to Whole,” was chosen to reflect on the world’s brokenness and its need for healing and restoration to wholeness, officials said.

“This is a time for each Christian to renew and deepen his or her commitment in faith, to allow God’s grace to transform them into the likeness of Christ,” said Father Raymond Dlugos, Merrimack’s vice president for mission and student affairs. “We do this through the action of repentance, or turning around, so we can allow God’s love and mercy to challenge us, change us and so save us from all that keeps us from fully giving ourselves away in love to God and our neighbor.”

The three pillars of Lent — prayer, fasting and almsgiving — are meant to facilitate our openness to God working within us, Father Dlugos added. 

Merrimack will celebrate the Lenten season with a series of events between today (March 1) and April 7.

Ashes will be blessed and distributed during masses at 12:30, 4:30 and 9 p.m. today in the Chapel of Our Mother of Good Counsel, Austin Hall, as well as at prayer services at 7 p.m. in Ash Centre and 10 p.m. in O’Brien Hall. Please note that the time of daily Mass on campus will change from noon to 12:30 p.m. to accommodate the college’s new class schedule.

The Grace J. Palmisano Center for Campus Ministry will sponsor a weekly discussion series each Thursday during Lent from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary Coffeehouse. The sessions will be led by faculty members or an outside guest, and a simple Lenten supper of soup and bread will be served to those who participate.

The following themes will be explored:

Thursday, March 2: “On Broken Politics,” with Anne Flaherty, professor of political science.

March 9: “On Broken Religion,” with Mark Allman, associate dean of liberal arts and professor of religious and theological studies.

March 23: Reflection and discussion led by representatives from Catholic Relief Services.

March 30: “A Nun and an Atheist in Conversation,” with Sister Jeanmarie Gribaudo, SSJ, STD, professor of religious and theological studies, and Michael Mascolo, director of the Compass program and professor of psychology.

April 6: “When Finance Is Broken,” with by Ana Silva, associate professor of accounting and finance.

In addition to the Thursday discussion series, other campus organizations will sponsor opportunities for reflection, prayer and action during the Lenten season. They include:

March 3-5: Merrimack Outreach Experience.

March 11-18: Alternative Spring Break service trips to New Orleans; San Diego; Pine Ridge, South Dakota; Nicaragua; Almost Heaven, Nazareth Farm and Wheeling, West Virginia; and Baltimore.

March 24-26: Restless Hearts retreat.

March 27: Lenten concert and readings by the Merrimack Scholars, 7 p.m., Rogers Center for the Arts. Sponsored by Campus Ministry.

April 7: Relay for Life, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., Lawler Rink. With special guest speaker Aly Raisman, champion gymnast.

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