Tags: Religion | vatican | ash wednesday | lent | catholic | priests | parishioners

Ash Wednesday: Priests Asked Not to Mark Worshippers' Foreheads

a blonde girl in a face mask has the ash wednesday cross on her forehead
(Vetre Antanaviciute-meskauskiene/Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 February 2021 04:38 PM

Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the start of Lent. Like so many religious worldwide events affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be celebrated very differently his year.

The Vatican has requested Catholic priests do not use their thumbs to mark the sign of the cross with ashes on the foreheads of their parishioners.

According to news reports, the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, posted the Vatican's request to churches on its website:

"Parishes should NOT follow the usual practice of imposing ashes by thumb on the foreheads of parishioners. Parishioners are reminded that receiving ashes is not required. All should remember that our own internal disposition and intention to repent is the importance of Ash Wednesday and that the ashes are an external sign of that internal reality."

According to USA Today, some churches are offering drive-thru ashes and do-it-yourself bagged ashes as a sign of repentance instead of the face-to-face tradition.

At our Lady of Lourdes in Seaford, Delaware, Reverend Steven B. Giuliano will follow the Vatican’s suggestion to sprinkle ashes on the heads of parishioners and will say "Repent and believe in the Gospel" to the entire church instead of to each individual as they receive their ashes in order to keep a respectable social distance during services.

Giuliano has made another COVID-19 tweak to the celebration of Easter.

"Due to the pandemic, we will not be celebrating Stations of the Cross in our church," he wrote in the church's bulletin, adding he made a video for parishioners to watch online.

The priest says the COVID-19 adjustments do not seem abnormal to him, although they might upset parishioners.

"I don't think it's going to be odd for me because I lived in Italy for two years," Giuliano told reporters. "You never see the pope with ashes on his forehead. They are always placed atop his head."

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The Vatican has requested Catholic priests do not use their thumbs to mark the sign of the cross with ashes on the foreheads of their parishioners.
vatican, ash wednesday, lent, catholic, priests, parishioners
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2021-38-17
Wednesday, 17 February 2021 04:38 PM
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