Ahead of Ash Wednesday (today), which marks the begnning of Lent, the Vatican issued guidance on how priests are to distribute ashes to faithful amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a note published on Tuesday by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, priests are to say the formula for distributing the ashes once to everyone present, as opposed to each individual.
The statement said that the priest “addresses all those present and only once says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal, applying it to all in general: ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel,’ or ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,’”.
“The priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask and distributes the ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places.
‘The Priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one without saying anything.”
Last year, the divine worship congregation released a series of guidelines for priests on administering the sacraments and offering Mass during the coronavirus pandemic, including for the celebration of Easter.
Public liturgies were not banned.
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