In his Easter address, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley urged more than 1,000 parishioners gathered in the South End cathedral Sunday morning to rededicate their lives to the church.
“Easter means a new life, a second chance, a new beginning,’’ O’Malley told the worshipers at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the largest Catholic church in New England.
O’Malley said the holy day - which Christians mark as the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion - was a day of love. He said Jesus’ message was “to build a civilization of love and promote a more just society.’’
As he spoke, many sat with heads bowed, hands clasped, eyes closed, deep in prayer.
The fragrance of incense filled the church, which is known for its ornate stained-glass windows that depict the Stations of the Cross. On the altar, yellow daffodils, white lilies, and pink and yellow tulips were neatly arranged.
Worshipers said the holiday reminded them of joy and family.
Lisa Movilla and Cynthia Akagbosu, who attend the Boston University School of Medicine, arrived early and planned to join a group of friends for an Easter meal at a nearby diner.
“It’s just a good day to refocus life and bring back the importance of faith,’’ said Movilla. “A lot of the time, life can seem so busy, so this is a good day to get back on track.’’
Akagbosu said the holiday signified hope.
“After the darkness comes brightness - sometimes you go through a dark time, and it seems like there will always be darkness, but there’s light at the end,’’ she said.
Joy Dalla-Tina, from Vancouver, came to Mass with her husband and two children. She said the Easter service and O’Malley’s words brought her back to her roots and lifted her spirits.
“This simplifies life,’’ she said, looking at the altar. “Life is about going from one room to another, and that you shouldn’t live in fear.’’
Nayda Cuevas, who leaves her Arlington home each Sunday to attend services at the Boston church, held her 2-month-old son, Lucas, as she posed for a photo in front of the altar after the service.
“This is the most important day of the year,’’ she said. “We’re feeling blessed and thanking God for all of his blessings. And no matter what’s going on in the world, there’s always joy and hope to look forward to.’’