College is tough. Between classes, clubs, sports, relationships, and missing family, it gets very stressful. Trying to actively keep the faith and pray, fast, abstain from certain activities, and go to church regularly adds to the struggle.
Many times a semester I’ll find myself worn down from all of these things and needing a break. I’ve find an oasis in the OCF at Penn State, and hope you have at your school, too. But every once in a while it’s nice to have something special to help refresh you. One of my favorite events like this is Day of Prayer.
I’ve participated in the Day of Prayer each year I’ve been in college so far. This year it’s from March 13th at 6PM Eastern to the 14th at 6PM. If you don’t know how Day of Prayer works, for 24 hours, OCF chapters around the country will be on a live stream for one hour-increments praying in front of a camera. You can easily go online any time during those 24 hours and watch other Orthodox students in Pennsylvania or Kansas or even Hawaii praying. When you go to sleep on the 13th you can take a peek or look when you wake up on the 14th. Following along is easy and flexible. Just go to the OCF website and find the link and watch and pray along.
It’s also really enriching to participate, as I have the past two years. If you’re looking to refresh yourself from the grind of college, have a great bonding hour with the members in your OCF, or just pray, it’s a great way to do so. Staying up really late and walking to church with your OCF friends to pray together in an otherwise empty church at 3AM is a great way to refresh your spiritual life.
Heck, I enjoyed it so much I purchased a Psalter that week so I could pray in a similar fashion in my own room. It truly is a valuable experience individually and as an OCF group. I certainly felt a lot closer to those I prayed with for that hour afterward and think you will too. And I’ll never forget being in that candle lit chapel and seeing the candle light and shadows dance around on the icon of Christ.
So if you can, go for it and sign your OCF up to pray on the live stream. Try to personally do it at least once in your college career. And if you can’t, try to tune in and watch for a little bit on the stream. Also make sure to spread the word to your other Orthodox college friends so they know about this amazing opportunity!
Tim is a Penn State Schreyer Honors student junior double majoring in Management (with an HR concentration) and Labor & Employment Relations, with a minor in the Legal Environment of Business. He has been an active member of the Penn State-University Park campus OCF his entire collegiate career and is now the active president for the club. Tim is also the current OCF Philadelphia District Leader. Feel free to hit Tim up on Twitter or LinkedIn to talk basketball or Orthodoxy.
For those of who don’t know, my name is Thano Prokos. I’m the current Great Lakes Student Leader on the OCF Student Leadership Board, and I had privilege along with the awesome Nicholas Wacks to be one of your Day of Prayer coordinators this year.
In the spirit of Great Lent, I’m going to have to ask you all to forgive my cheesiness when I say that Day of Prayer has held a special place in my heart since my first year in OCF. Before I ever participated in College Conference, Real Break, or Serve for St. Patrick Day, I participated in Day of Prayer with the rest of my OCF chapter. The first time where I was ever part of something along with the greater OCF body was when I stood in front of a MacBook camera in St. George Church in Chicago reading the Compline service with my chapter and whoever was watching online.
So, when I was told that I would share the responsibility of coordinating Day of Prayer, I definitely felt eager because of how familiar I was with the program. However, I challenged myself to really think about what Day of Prayer meant to me, and why it’s an essential staple on our OCF calendar. Sure, it’s a great way to expose your campus to Orthodoxy, and it’s a wonderful way to start Lent off on the right foot, but what more can we get from Day of Prayer?
Consider for a minute our OCF theme this year:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
If you asked me what the best thing about Orthodoxy is, I would argue that it’s the fact that the Orthodox Church truly is one whole church. Let’s get a little cosmic for a moment; through our traditions and our communion with each other, our church transcends both time and space to exist as one body existing in tandem with our Lord.
Think about it…
We regularly hold a service originating from the early first millennium. At least once a week we receive communion, partaking in the body of our one Savior. We revere saints: role models of all different walks of life whom we believe to be influentially and metaphysically present in our services. Much of our theology revolves around the belief that we engage in the same worship as the Orthodox in our neighboring churches, our cathedrals, our mission parishes, churches abroad, our Orthodox ancestors, and the Orthodox of the future. If we don’t believe in a finite Christ, then neither should we believe that His bride is finite. Our faith is a celebration of that infinite one-ness: all Orthodox everywhere at all times are united.
Alright, so now that we’re no longer smoking the incense, lets get back to something a bit more concrete, shall we?
Day of Prayer is very much a microcosm of that convoluted mess I described two paragraphs ago. If you participated, you offered pretty much the same service as everyone else who participated. You read the same list of names and prayed for the same people that every other participant read, and when your hour was up another chapter did the same thing that you did. It’s best not to think of Day of Prayer as 24 separate services, but instead one service offered by our whole OCF body.
We’re about two weeks into Great Lent, and if we reflect on Day of Prayer’s purpose as our OCF kickoff into this season of bright sorrow, then there are many things that we can take away from the rest of our journey. Here are just a couple:
Hold on to or get a copy of our Day or Prayer reader service! I’ve already used it a couple times as a reference for group and individual prayer over the past couple of weeks. If you have difficulty finding lists of prayers that you can offer, then try this one out as a reference.
Remember that you’re not on your Lenten journey alone. You’re on your way to Pascha along with all Day of Prayer participants and the rest of our Orthodox body. Keep all of us in your prayers, and use the dedication to the faith we exhibited on Day of Prayer as fuel to keep moving forward this Lent.
I really want to thank all those who participated in Day of Prayer and our North American staff for working so hard to give us the resources and organization to make it possible. If you or your fellow students didn’t get a chance to participate in Day of Prayer this year, then I highly encourage you to make sure you sign up next year. Remember, that we’re all one church and one body, and while infinite is a pretty big concept, it’s just not quite as big if you’re not involved!
Enjoy the beginning of Spring, and what I pray to be a fulfilling and fruitful Lenten Season!
About the Author
This is a guest post from Thano Prokos, Great Lakes Regional Student Leader on the 2013-2014 Student Leadership Board. Thano is a junior at DePaul University, majoring in Secondary Education. This is his first year serving OCF on the SLB.
What’s the one time in the year that an Orthodox saint gets major airtime on a college campus?
In just a few days, college towns will be smothered in green and shamrocks will adorn windows and doors across campus. But how many people will know about the amazing life of the bishop they celebrate that day?
St. Patrick of Ireland was known for his evangelical efforts in Ireland, his theological teaching (the three-leaf clover as a symbol for the Trinity, for example), and his love for those in need. Somehow, in the mix of Hallmark cards, sparkly green decorations, drink specials, and leprechauns, the incredible impact of St. Patrick seems to have been a little lost.
In an effort to honor our beloved St. Patrick, OCF students for the past few years have been trying to bring some of St. Patrick’s light to their own lives through a North American Chapter Event known as Serve 4 St. Patrick. This year, in your chapter, take this opportunity to get to know St. Patrick by reading his life, teaching others about our faith, and most especially by sharing in his love for others through service in your community. If you have never explored service as an element of your OCF chapter’s life, this is the perfect chance during Lent to honor a great saint by serving Christ in those around you. If you’re not sure what your chapter can do to serve others, here are just a few simple ideas that take little planning in addition to those you can find on the Serve 4 St. Patrick page:
Take flowers to the local nursing home
Find out if there are any shut-ins from your parish and arrange to visit them
Clean up garbage around campus
Treat another organization or person who is often ignored or abused to a meal–take the chance to get to know the person(s)
Skip special meals out or fancy coffee for a week, and make a donation to the local food bank, shelter, etc.
Have other ideas? Post them in the comments for other chapters to see! And have a blessed and happy St. Patrick’s Day!