PROVIDENCE — Ash Wednesday was celebrated a little differently in Catholic churches across the United States this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blessing the ashes at the churches across the diocese, priests cited the common penitential formula a single time before silently sprinkling ashes on the crown of each person’s slightly bowed head.
“This is common to many places in the world but not to us in the United States,” Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans said during his homily on Ash Wednesday at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.
“This change may make us feel that we haven’t received the ashes, at least not like we’re used to receiving them. It may make us feel incomplete or unsatisfied, but perhaps that is not a bad thing.”
Bishop Evans explained that one of the purposes of this penitential season of Lent is to help us examine our lives to see where we are incomplete spiritually. To look where we have to be filled with the grace of God.
To do so, he noted, the Church offers us three tried-and-true practices: prayer, fasting, or self-denial, and almsgiving, or works of mercy.
While Christians are encouraged to do these things throughout the year, during this penitential season they are asked to intensify these year-round practices.
Following the Mass, the diocesan Office of Life and Family kicked off its annual 40 Days for Life campaign by leading a peaceful and prayerful walk to Planned Parenthood, where they held a vigil for the unborn.