Saturday, February 13, 2021

February 17, 2021 Ash Wednesday Services Are Modified Due To The COVID-19 Pandemic.


Happy Ash Wednesday-February 17, 2021!


What is Ash Wednesday and what is the symbolic history behind it?  

Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season for Roman Catholics and Christians around the world. It lasts for forty-six days before Easter. According to the Roman Catholic church uses Ash Wednesday to teach parishioners "to better appreciate the death and resurrection of Christ through self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, and self-denial." The palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned for ashes and are blessed afterwards. It is these ashes that the Parish Priest will mark a cross on the person's forehead on Ash Wednesday. He will say this blessing to the parishioner while administering the ashes "Remember, man, that dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return" (Genesis 3:19 KJV). Catholics do this to show forgiveness for their sins and "the need to prepare for a holy death," from


In 325 AD the Council of Nicaea agreed to the 40-day time period to fast and celebrate Lent according to The Roman Emperor Constantine goal for these 40 days was "to combine pagans and Christians into a peaceable unit within the Roman kingdom," from In 601 AD, Pope Gregory instituted a couple more changes such as moving the start of Lent from the "fourth Sunday of the year to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter. This changed allowed for 40 days of fasting with six Sundays counted as feast days, for a total of 46 days for Lent, also from the same article. Pope Gregory also began the custom of marking the faithful's foreheads in the shape of a cross as reported in


Due to COVID-19 Pandemic the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship issued a directive on January 12, 2021 for all parish priests around the world to follow regarding the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday. "After blessing the ashes and sprinkling them with holy water in silence, the priest addresses those present, reciting once the formula found in the Roman Missal: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” At that point, the note continues, the priest “cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask, and distributes ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places. He then sprinkles the ashes on each person’s head “without saying anything” according to the Vatican News website.  


According to the Reverend Matthew Gworek, the Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Hartford said that Archbishop Leonard Blair “shared it with all the priests of the Archdiocese in order to provide them with this recommended method and procedure for Ash Wednesday.”  He further stated that after this note became public by the Congregation for Divine Worship on January 12, 2021 “As such, the Bishops of the United States were directed to use this information in their individual dioceses to make decisions about how Ash Wednesday liturgies would be held in their parishes.”  Ms. Mary-Jo McLaughlin from Catholic Family Services of the Diocese of Norwich in Norwich stated the above instructions “regarding the distribution of ashes that the Diocese sent out to all pastors, priests and deacons.”  The information that was sent out to the parishes further states “While this is a common practice in some countries, this form of distribution is not as well known in the US. The USCCB Committee on Divine Worship therefore encourages the clergy to provide some explanation to the faithful to avoid unnecessary confusion.”  The USCCB stands for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


For more information about Ash Wednesday please see the following websites:


I would like to wish everyone a Happy Ash Wednesday and a Happy Lenten season.


Enjoy the videos.



1 comment:

Phil Pessina said...

Thank you for your explanation of the importance of Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, as we travel our road of self Christian Reflection and prepare for Easter!

It is our time to walk through the Deserts of our Lives, reflecting on our unchristian behaviors and reflecting how we all can be better persons of kindness through faith!

Blessings to all my Brothers and Sisters!