‘Take-home’ ashes OK to mark Ash Wednesday
MANILA, Philippines — Heads of families may themselves take home ashes from churches and distribute these to family members for the observance of Ash Wednesday this week.
In a note issued this month, Baguio Bishop Victor Bendico, chair of the Episcopal Commission on Liturgy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said those who would not be able to physically attend Mass could request a sachet containing blessed ash and “impose it to their families” as they attend online Mass.
“Those who cannot come to church on this day can join the celebration of the Mass on Ash Wednesday on television and online means. They then receive the ashes from their family members who were able to go to church … and bring home ashes for them,” Bendico said.
The head of the family is expected to give a brief introduction and invite his family to take part in the celebration.
The 40-day Lenten period starts with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 17.
Dried branches, leaves
The CBCP said ashes could also be obtained from dried branches or leaves of plants or trees “since many parishes may find it difficult to secure old palm branches blessed in the celebration of Palm Sunday of 2020.”
“Our celebration last year was in the absence of our people on account of the strict lockdown and only a few palm branches were blessed on the occasion,” the CBCP said.
Among the various ways to distribute the ashes to safeguard the health and safety of the parishioners are by sprinkling the ashes on their forehead or by using cotton balls in applying the ashes and marking a cross on the forehead.
The minister will use different cotton balls for each faithful.
Douglas Badong, vicar of Quiapo Church, said the faithful “may opt not to have the ashes sprinkled on their forehead. It’s an external practice of repentance. What is important is they confess and repent for their sins.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.