Members of OCF chapters across the country ushered in Great Lent on Feb. 26 and 27 by joining together in the annual Day of Prayer; 24 hours of unceasing prayer uniting college students across the country. Chapters were able to sign up for one hour time slots and then joined fellow OCF members, clergy, friends and family to help prepare for the Lenten season. Two different versions of the service were made available, allowing for chapters to participate whether or not a priest was available. Individuals were also able to submit prayer requests for others, living or departed, to be read by each of the participating chapters.
A fundamental component of Day of Prayer was live streaming. Using laptops, webcams or even iPhones, services were broadcast on one of the two stream channels made available by National OCF, allowing those who wished to participate to join. In doing this, even if only for a short time, students at campus without a strong Orthodox presence could join in prayer, parents could be reunited with their children who were away at their respective campuses; anyone who wished to take part could lift their voices with that of the streaming chapter.
"The live stream gives this event a great deal of its heart and soul," said Zena Debs, president of the University of Connecticut OCF and chairman of National OCF's Student Advisory Board. "Knowing that so many young, Orthodox college students are in prayer together at one time is huge and fills the heart, but to be able to see these students committing their time to such a cause, and thoroughly enjoying it, speaks to the importance of this practice."
Each participating chapter also brought their own unique experience to the event. Some chapters had access to chapels and clergy, while others held their service in their apartments or dorm rooms. Though the service text was consistent throughout, the subtle differences with each stream helped keep the momentum of the event going, and allowed for those watching the live streams to see how other Orthodox Christians interpreted their faith.
"Day of Prayer is [a] comfort. It is a chance to commune not only with those that I love and worship with on a regular basis but with those who I may not have met yet or those who I do not get to see," said Debs. "To me, Day of Prayer is a statement of our belief and a chance to show our Faith through strong and quiet action that can not be shot down, judged or disputed."
Regardless of the location or the formality, students nationwide worked with clergy, family and friends to enter the Great Fast with their hearts and minds placed in a prayerful spirit. Let the thoughts and emotions of this event help light our path as we make our way through the Lenten season.
Edward is a senior at the University of Connecticut studying biomedical engineering.