Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., archbishop of Newark, distributed ashes to a several hundred Catholics during two Ash Wednesday Masses at St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral in Newark Feb. 22.
For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic — when ashes were sprinkled over people’s heads in compliance with safety restrictions —Cardinal Tobin resumed the tradition of placing ashes in the form of a cross on individuals’ foreheads.
He also spoke about the significance of the ashes, which symbolize the reality everyone eventually returns to dust in death. Considering this reminder of one’s own mortality, the cardinal said Ash Wednesday is therefore a day to repent and “conform our minds and hearts more and more to the mind and heart of God.”
“We rend our hearts this day in preparation for all the days when our hearts have been closed to the sufferings of our sisters and brothers,” Cardinal Tobin said in his homily. “Because God has mercy on us, now is the day of salvation. We know that our Father sees what happens in secret, (so) our prayer and fast acknowledging Him will be fruitful. And we know by rending our hearts, we are returning to the Lord.”
With Ash Wednesday concluded, Catholics worldwide have enter the season of Lent, which commemorates Christ’s 40 days of temptation. The next six weeks will see parishioners praying, repenting, abstaining from meat on Fridays, fasting on Good Friday and making a Lenten sacrifice, which means giving up something for the entirety of Lent to practice self-discipline and to recall the sacrifices Jesus made.
This period ends Holy Thursday, which is April 6.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.