Bishop also issues updates to diocesan reopening plan
By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Bishop Edward J. Burns, celebrating an Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe on March 2, urged the faithful to observe Lent by binding themselves in prayer with the people of war-torn Ukraine.
“It is important that we bind ourselves close to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. It is important as men and women of faith that we bind ourselves with prayer,” Bishop Burns said. “Our God is Father of all people, not just some people. Our God desires peace. And, in particular, in our Catholic tradition, through the intercession of the saints, we pray that Our Lady, the Queen of Peace, will intercede for us and for the people of Ukraine.”
The bishop also asked the faithful to heed Pope Francis’s call for Ash Wednesday to be one of prayer and fasting for peace in the Ukraine.
“We are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine this Ash Wednesday,” said Bishop Burns, who also shared Pope Francis’s words to the faithful during his homily.
“My heart aches greatly at the worsening situation in eastern Ukraine,” Pope Francis said on Feb. 23. “I would like to appeal to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting…I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.”
Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, the 40-day penitential period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in preparation for Easter. Good Friday lands this year on April 15, and the Easter celebration follows on Sunday, April 17.
A year ago the COVID-19 pandemic still was significantly impacting North Texas and more strenuous safeguards remained in place for Ash Wednesday. This year, however, Ash Wednesday marked the unveiling of new updates to the decree governing the Diocese of Dallas’s reopening plan.
“Last year, we sprinkled ashes on the crown of people’s heads as to avoid contact. This year, we are actually tracing the cross on their foreheads with ashes,” said Bishop Burns, adding that the updates to the decree also initiate a return to the rite of peace during Masses. “We will again be offering to one another a sign of peace – a handshake, a fist bump, whatever form it may be – while always respecting the other person and what they feel comfortable in doing.”
With the number of COVID-19 cases decreasing and safety guidelines being eased, people filled the pews for the noon Ash Wednesday Mass at the cathedral. It was a scene that elated the bishop.
“We’re filled with hope that we are going to get beyond this global pandemic. It is cause for rejoicing to see the people back in the pews,” said Bishop Burns, calling his decision to close churches in March 2020 due to the pandemic one of the most excruciating he’s ever made. “So my heart is filled with joy seeing everybody coming back to Mass.”
As the shepherd of the Diocese of Dallas, the bishop said he is ready to welcome all back to Mass.
“I want to make sure they all do come back, and that they don’t grow complacent and lukewarm in their faith,” he said. “This is the exact message of Lent: ‘Now return to the Lord with all your heart.’ That’s our cry to everyone this Lenten season: Return to the Lord.”
Visit www.cathdal.org to find updates to the decree concerning the Diocese of Dallas reopening plan.