The New York prelate invited Catholics to approach Lent with the same zeal for the faith shown in Kentucky.
The unprecedented “Asbury Revival,” which drew thousands of Christians to continuously pray from the chapel of Kentucky’s Asbury University, has ended after more than two weeks. While the faithful did not stop coming, the school determined it was best for students to get back to normal campus life, since midterms are fast approaching.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan has taken note of the incredible show of faith that an unplanned event can draw.
Aleteia previously reported that the “Asbury Revival” was started when a group of students stayed to pray after a church service. After they shared a video of themselves praying on social media, more students arrived to join them. This cycle of prayer and social media posts soon snowballed into a spectacle of faith that drew visitors from as far as Canada and Singapore.
The impromptu prayer session, dubbed the “Asbury Revival” by attendees, finally came to a close on February 23, after 16 days (estimated 400 hours). According to the local outlet WKYT, the surrounding town of Wimore was absolutely swamped with visitors. Wimore, which is home to just 6,000 people, hosted between 50,000 and 70,000 people during the 16-day prayer event, with authorities commenting that the town could not fit even one more car.
Cardinal Dolan, of the Archdiocese of New York, reflected on the monumental showing of faith that came without any urging or advertising. In an interview with Fox News, Cardinal Dolan said:
“This is extraordinarily good news,” he told Martha MacCallum. “What perks me up is that this was all unplanned. This was all spontaneous. This was innovative. This was grassroots. This wasn’t something choreographed or anticipated. This is just sincere, genuine students who felt the need for prayer, God’s word, companionship and faith and just were driven to keep at it, to persevere in prayer, as Jesus tells us to in the Gospel.”
The prelate compared the impromptu event in Kentucky to the manner in which the founding fathers decided to form the United States, noting that both were spurred by “a moment of faith”:
“The historians say that’s the first time Americans looked around and said, ‘We’re a people. We’re something different. We are one nation under God.’ So, maybe this is going to … spark some type of religious revival in the country that everybody kind of admits we need.”
Appearing on Fox with ashes on his forehead, as the interview came on Ash Wednesday, Cardinal Dolan enthusiastically called on the faithful to approach their Lent as those tens of thousands of Christians approached the 16-day prayer marathon at Asbury University:
“We’ve marked ourselves saying, ‘I’m a sinner. I stand in need of God’s grace and mercy. I’m not giving up on Him. He is not giving up on me and I’m going to start 40 days of prayer and self-denial and outreach and love to others and I can rekindle in me that religious fire that I know is deep down within,’” he said. “That’s the meaning of ashes. That’s the invitation of Lent.”