Coronavirus Pandemic Forces Changes For Ash Wednesday

Wednesday begins the holiest time in the Christian faith, Lenten season, but the still-present coronavirus pandemic forces change to tradition; CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reports.

Video Transcript

- Tomorrow begins the holiest time in the Christian faith, Lenten season.

- But the pandemic is forcing changes to tradition. And CBS 2's Vanessa Murdock has this.

VANESSA MURDOCK: The music of church bells fills the air outside of Holy Child Jesus/St. Benedict Joseph Labre Parish one day ahead of Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

- It's a really good time to reflect, to think about the year.

VANESSA MURDOCK: Simply put, devout Catholic Paul [? Tona ?] says, Lent is when he and his wife Carol try--

- Upping our game to be a little more like Jesus.

VANESSA MURDOCK: For the 40-day stretch that is Lent, Christians typically give something up.

- I'm giving up meat. I'm trying to give up cursing. No alcohol. It kind of just shows Him that I would sacrifice things, just like how He sacrifices for us.

CHRISTOPHER HEANUE: Remove that which holds us back from Christ and try to grow in holiness.

VANESSA MURDOCK: Father Christopher Heanue, with the diocese of Brooklyn, shares this tradition will hold. But because of COVID, others must be altered.

CHRISTOPHER HEANUE: We may not see as many people on the train with ashes on their foreheads tomorrow.

VANESSA MURDOCK: Instead of marking the foreheads of the faithful with the Sign of the Cross, Father Heanue will be sprinkling the ashes overhead.

CHRISTOPHER HEANUE: It's going to be a learning experience.

VANESSA MURDOCK: He believes this change offers a beautiful opportunity for spiritual growth. No more public display of faith.

CHRISTOPHER HEANUE: Only you will know and your relationship with God.

- Any way we get it, we are close to the Lord.

VANESSA MURDOCK: Father Heanue says live-streaming of all celebrations and services will continue. Palm Sunday will look different.

CHRISTOPHER HEANUE: Normally, there's a procession of the people who come with their palms.

VANESSA MURDOCK: Staying in place more likely. On Holy Thursday, a priest washes the feet of 12 people in the parish.

CHRISTOPHER HEANUE: Will that happen this year? I'm not sure.

VANESSA MURDOCK: Traditions change. Their significance not lost on believers. From Richmond Hills, Queens, Vanessa Murdock, CBS 2 News.

- And the Lenten season ends on Sunday. Easter Sunday, April 4, with the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.