This year Lent begins on Wednesday, February 17, Ash Wednesday. Mass will be at 8:15am in the Church. At 7pm we will have a Liturgy of the Word service with distribution of Ashes; also in the Church.
Many people are not aware that Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of obligation. However, Ash Wednesday is typically a day that most Catholics attend Mass and receive ashes on their forehead. This year due to COVID ashes will be distributed a little differently. Below is a message from the Office of Worship explaining the new procedures and giving you a bit of history and context.
In accordance with instructions from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, there will be some changes to the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.At the appropriate time in the liturgy, the priest will bless the ashes and then, aloud to the whole assembly, say the words indicated in the Missal: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This is said only once and not individually to each person. Ashes will then be distributed to the faithful in the form of sprinkling on the top of the head. This method avoids direct skin contact between persons. While most Americans are more familiar with the placing of ashes on the forehead in the shape of a cross, the sprinkling of ashes is very common in Catholic cultures around the world.
The ministers and the faithful wear masks throughout this rite of distribution of ashes. While waiting in line, social distancing protocols (similar to those in place for distribution of Holy Communion) should be observed.The Church considers the blessed ashes to be a “sacramental” – a tangible sign that inspires reverence as we enter into the holy and penitential season of Lent. While this is an important sign of our faith, it is by no means a requirement. Those who feel uncomfortable may simply choose not to receive ashes this year.