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Local churches issue guidelines on Ash Wednesday celebration in time of pandemic

By Myrna Bermudo

Various instructions have been issued by local Churches in Bicol to guide parishes and families on the celebration of Ash Wednesday following health protocols and physical distancing. Ash Wednesday signals the start of the Lenten Season.

To avoid physical contact amidst Covid-19 pandemic, the CBCP has recommended that ashes be sprinkled on the heads of the faithful instead of marking the foreheads with a cross.

Families who will not be able to go to church were encouraged to celebrate Ash Wednesday with imposition of ashes in their homes. Blessed ashes may be requested from the parish for family use.

The Archdiocesan Commission on Liturgy of the Archdiocese of Caceres has issued a guide for a paraliturgy to celebrate the start of Lent and mark foreheads of family members at home. The family may gather in front of the family altar for the prayer service.

The Dioceses of Daet and Legazpi, through their social media accounts, also issued a guide for the Family Celebration of Ash Wednesday at Home. Daet diocese said the family may burn dried palm leaves or any dried leaves to make ashes which they can use. Family members may request ashes from their parishes.

“On Ash Wednesday before the first Sunday of Lent, the faithful receive the ashes, thus entering into a time for the purification of their souls. This sign of penance, signifies the condition of the sinner, who seeks to express his guilt before the Lord in an exterior manner, and by so doing express his interior conversion, led on by the confident hope that the Lord will be merciful. The same sign marks the beginning of the way of conversion, which is developed through the celebration of the sacrament of Penance during days before Easter.” (Circular Letter, Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, January 1988, No.15)

“Repent and believe the Good News.” These gospel words of admonition will not be spoken as ashes are sprinkled on the head instead of marking the forehead with the sign of the cross on Ash Wednesday amid Covid-19 pandemic. Fr. Dario Echepare, NPS Director, celebrates mass at the Sta. Rafaela Maria School in Naga at Sabang, Naga City. Observing health protocols, he sprinkles blessed ashes on the head in celebration of Ash Wednesday to mark the start of the season of Lent. (/mb Sta. Rafaela School FB)


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