Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The (Ash) Capital of the World

The rest of the Catholic world is always hard-pressed to outdo St Patrick's Cathedral in New York, but that's especially the case on this, its busiest day of the year.

In the heart of midtown Manhattan, the marquee church of US Catholicism welcomes an annual onslaught of ash-seekers estimated at about 50,000 in a daylong convergence that begins before dawn and stretches into tonight. The imposition of ashes is spread out across somewhere around a dozen liturgies; between them, ministers man stations to serve those only able to make a quick visit and the throngs who, seeing the city awash in black-crosses-on-foreheads, spontaneously drop in off the street.

Take that, S. Sabina.

SVILUPPO: Yesterday, the world learned his annual penance. Today, for the second year in a row, Jim Martin SJ's Ash Wednesday meditation was aired on NPR here in the States -- a Lenten plug for joy.

AP/Kathy Willens