Catholics return to placing ash on foreheads on Ash Wednesday
For the first time in two years, the Catholic faithful in the Philippines will be allowed to receive ash crosses on their foreheads to mark the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 2.
In a set of guidelines released on Saturday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said it would revert to the practice of religious placing ash on foreheads amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sprinkling of ash remained an option.
“The formula for the imposition of ashes ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel,’ or ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return’ is said only once ‘applying it to all in general.’ We will revert to the imposition of ashes on the forehead of the faithful,” the guideline stated, which was signed by CBCP Episcopal Commission on Liturgy Chairman Bishop Victor Bendico.
“The sprinkling of ashes on the crown will remain an option. We have been reminded last year that this option is an ‘opportunity to catechize our people on both the penitential and baptismal characters of the Lenten season,” it added.
The Catholic hierarchy in 2020 and 2021 modified the Ash Wednesday rites due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of ash being wiped to mark crosses on foreheads, ash was sprinkled on the crown of the heads of the faithful.
In the event that religious processions will be allowed, the CBCP said there must be coordination with the local government and barangay officials.
“We limit the route of processions through roads or streets that will allow greater possibility for social distancing," the CBCP said.
"Procession marshals are necessary to maintain the safe distance of the participants of the processions,” it added.
It did not recommend the use “carosas” or “andas” which need to be carried by people, saying this would not ensure social distancing among those who would carry them.
The CBCP advised that the images must be put on a motor vehicle instead of being carried by the people.
The schedule of online transmission of these celebrations should be made known to the public, adding that these need to be “live telematic broadcasting, not recorded.”
It added that the traditional “Pabasa” may be organized in compliance with the health protocols. —NB, GMA News