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Ashes to be sprinkled, not marked on foreheads on Ash Wednesday

With Lent set to begin on February 17 with Ash Wednesday, the Catholic Church has made several adjustments to the day's observances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Saleema Refran's Saturday 24 Oras Weekend report, the Vatican itself had ruled that instead of marking the forehead with a cross of ashes, the ashes would be sprinkled on the top of the head.

Manila Archdiocese Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo also explained that during the observance, parishioners would not be spoken over individually.

“Bago bumaba at magbudbod ng ashes dito po sa bulubudbunan ng mga tao, ay sasabihin na lang ng pari, ‘Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.’ O kaya, ‘Repent and believe in the good news,’” said Pabillo.

“At paglapit ng mga tao, at yuyuko sila, wala ng sasabihin. So no touch.”

And given that the last Palm Sunday was observed during the COVID-19 lockdown, any kind of dried leaves could be used to make ashes.

To further minimize contact, parishes such as the Santuario de San Antonio in Makati would offer free packets of blessed ashes. Interested Catholics can pick up a packet from the lobby guard on Ash Wednesday. Each packet has enough ashes for a five-member household.

As for families unable to attend mass on Ash Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Manila suggested that these families can hold their burning of palms/leaves at home and attend mass online.

“Kailangan tayo mag-adjust sa panahon ng pandemic. Ang meaning ay hindi naman nawala,” emphasized Pabillo. — DVM, GMA News