The historic winter storms in February shattered electric plants across Texas, prompting energy providers to force blackouts across the state to preserve what fragile electricity they could generate. At least 49 deaths have been linked to the storms and subsequent power outages.
This Ash Wednesday, priests and bishops across the Diocese of Brooklyn imposed ashes in a new way due to the ongoing pandemic. Under Pope Francis’ recommendation, ashes were sprinkled on worshippers’ heads instead of drawing the sign of the cross on the forehead.
Lent is a time to reconsider the path one is taking in life and to finally answer God’s invitation to return to him with one’s whole heart, Pope Francis said.
Though American Catholics are used to receiving their ashes from thumb to forehead on Ash Wednesday, this year, ashes will be sprinkled on their heads. The gesture and practice of sprinkling ashes, however, has a longstanding history within Jewish and Catholic traditions.
The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments asked priests to take special anti-COVID-19 precautions this year when distributing ashes on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, including sprinkling ashes on the top of people’s heads rather than using them to make a cross on people’s foreheads.
Pope Francis did not attend a traditional penitential service with priests of the Diocese of Rome due to a mild cold, the Vatican said.
Amid continuing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Catholic pilgrims in the Holy Land said they were being cautious but had no regrets about continuing with their pilgrimage.
At one Chinese parish in the Diocese of Brooklyn, the start of Lent came with a message of hope amid concerns about the coronavirus.
On Ash Wednesday, millions of Catholics around the world will wear a mark of ashes on their foreheads, gathered from the palms that are burned after Palm Sunday the previous year.
March 6 marked the beginning of the season of Lent and Ash Wednesday liturgies were held throughout the diocese at various parishes.