Interfaith Council holds prayer burning ceremony

first_imgTal Volk | Daily TrojanWritten prayers left at the Little Chapel of Silence were burned at a ritual ceremony Tuesday night. Members of the USC community gathered at the University Religious Center courtyard to read aloud several of the written prayers before they were set alight.The ceremony is held once or twice a year by the USC Interfaith Council and the Office of Religious Life to allow students to come together and share their struggles and challenges in solidarity. This is the sixth year that the ceremony has been held.“We have so many of these prayers, and we didn’t know what to do with them, so we talked to the Interfaith Council … we decided on reading them and burning them,” said Jim Burklo, associate dean of religious life.Tal VolkThe Little Chapel of Silence, tucked behind the northwest corner of Town & Gown, has been an open room for people of all faiths to go for silent contemplation and prayer since 1935.The prayers come from both members and non-members of the USC community who have visited the Little Chapel of Silence and left a prayer. The prayers read at the ceremony covered a wide range of topics and emotions.Burklo has been touched by the prayers left at the box.“The prayers come from different religious traditions, they’re written in many different languages and they reflect the range of human emotions,” Burklo said. “It is very touching to experience the power of these prayers and expressions as they are shared aloud.”After the burning of the prayers, several of the attendees were treated to hot chocolate, marshmallows and a bonfire that lasted through the evening. The event allowed students to warm up from the cold and relieve stress while listening to heartfelt prayers.“It’s a nice kind of winding down event … it’s actually cold and dark, and that’s a really powerful thing this time of the year,” said Joe Russ, president of the Interfaith Council.According to Burklo, burning prayers is symbolic of raising something to a higher level and releasing it. The prayers read on Tuesday came from people of different ages and backgrounds and dealt with a range of subjects, from hoping for the football team to win to overcoming financial struggle.“We have people who don’t go to USC write prayers sometimes. We have high school students saying, ‘I want to go to USC’ on some of these prayers,” Russ said.Angie Mendoza, a junior majoring in social sciences, was involved in reading the prayers before they were burned.“It was very beautiful to share in the struggles for a moment and release them out in the world,” Mendoza said.Being somewhat removed from view of pedestrians, it is rare for students to know about this small chapel. No regular services are held; however, visitors are encouraged to write a small prayer on a piece of paper and place it in a box regardless of their religious affiliation.“We are all going through a lot of different things and passages in our lives, and you’re reading about all these passages in these prayers. You get a whole sense of the community, its joys, its struggles, its challenges and its successes, and there is a whole lot of connectedness to the campus,” Burklo said. “This is the ultimate Trojan Family experience.”last_img

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