Added on 11/02/2016
Dublin City University’s Inter Faith Centre hosted its first ever ecumenical Ash Wednesday Service yesterday (February 10). The service was led by Archbishop Michael Jackson with assistance from DCU Chaplain Fr Séamus McEntee, the Principal of the Church of Ireland College of Education, Dr Anne Lodge, and DCU Chaplain Philip McKinley.
The service, which was attended by DCU President Professor Brian MacCraith along with university staff and students, included the imposition of ashes.
In his sermon the Archbishop spoke of witness during Lent. He referred to the early Christians and said that faith, witness, proclamation and presence were born out of a situation of violence and colour. Drawing on the readings [Joel 2: 1–2, 12–17; 2 Corinthians 5: 20b–6:10; Matthew 6: 1–6. 16–21] he said that Paul outlined the relationship between justice, righteousness, grace and mercy. He said these needed to work together.
Philip McKinley, Fr Séamus McEntee, Archbishop Michael Jackson, Professor Brian MacCraith and Dr Anne Lodge.
Referring to the Gospel in which Matthew urges caution in the practice of righteousness in front of others lest they seem hypocritical, the Archbishop suggested that, rather than giving alms, praying and fasting invisibly, the invitation in Lent and on Ash Wednesday was to strongly identify with Jesus in a way that does not make a spectacle of ourselves. The imposition of ashes on our foreheads was living out the life of baptism in the public space and the public square. “Rather than making a spectacle of ourselves the ashes are a sign of self–denial and greater sharing of the gift of grace that Jesus Christ has given us,” he said.
“Set in the heart of a busy secular university in the heart of the Inter Faith Centre, one of the things we might take away today is that all of the things mentioned in Matthew Chapter 6 are not exclusively Christian. They came from Judaism … Jesus did not invent them. He invited people to taken them into their everyday lives – things that were part of another tradition. So as we gather here today it is not in a sense of exclusion but in a sense of being sent out with joy and warmth as proclaimers of the word of God,” the Archbishop concluded.
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