It's a tradition to mark the beginning of Lent. After a brief ceremony, Pope Francis led short a procession in the streets of Rome-from the Basilica of Sant' Anselmo.... to the Basilica of Santa Sabina. Cardinals and local bishops also took part.
Since Lent is a time for spiritual conversion, the Pope emphasized the importance of authentic repentance, which he referenced to tears, for only hypocrites he said, don't cry.
"It would be good to ask ourselves-Do I cry? Does the Pope cry? What about Cardinals? Bishops? The Consecrated? Priests? Do we pray with tears?”
Reflecting on the Gospel reading, he also warned of the temptation of showing off, after doing a good deed.
"When a good deed is done, almost instinctively we feel the need to be recognized and admired for it. We yearn for that satisfaction. But Jesus invites us to carry out the good deed without calling out attention, trusting only in the reward of Our Lord.”
The Pope received the ashes Himself before imposing them on Cardinals and Bishops. It's a symbol of the Bible passage which states, "For Dust you are and to Dust you shall Return.”
The Pope also highlighted the need to embrace God's mercy to live out the Lenten Season without superficial or temporary traits.
In addition to the Roman Curia, some diplomats also attended the Mass. The president of Panama was also there with his family.