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Spiritual Life

Ash Wednesday is March 1st

February 28, 2017

This Wednesday, March 1st, is Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is the Christian observance of the beginning of Lent, a traditional period which marks 40 days of penitence, fasting and spiritual discipline before Easter.  The day derives its name from the ceremonial imposition of ashes on the foreheads of worshippers.  This ritual began to be observed over 1000 years ago, and traditionally the ashes are made by burning the previous year’s palms from Palm Sunday. 


While some may associate Ash Wednesday with the Roman Catholic Church, it is not a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic tradition.  Still, it is faithfully observed by Catholics and many Protestant Christians as well, and Ash Wednesday Services are held at many churches to mark the beginning of Lent. 


A brief Ash Wednesday service is offered on the Lewis & Clark campus at 12:30 p.m. in Agnes Flanagan Chapel on March 1st.  Other nearby Ash Wednesday services take place at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church (11 a.m. and 7 p.m.), and Lake Oswego United Church of Christ (7 p.m.). 


If you see people with ash smudges on their foreheads on our campus, it is simply a sign of their own commitment and desire to mark the beginning of Lent.  In a pluralistic culture, it is not uncommon to see a variety of expressions of religious commitment and devotion, and one of the hallmarks of a healthy community is the acceptance and affirmation of this type of expression. 


For more information about Ash Wednesday, feel free to contact Mark Duntley, the Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life (, or check out the following 2 minute You Tube video:

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