MANILA - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued guidelines for the celebration of the liturgy in this year’s Ash Wednesday that will fall on Feb. 17, amid the ongoing threat brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aside from the recent modifications on Ash Wednesday from the Congregation on Divine Worship that confirmed the liturgical recommendations that the CBCP issued for Ash Wednesday 2020, ashes that will be used for this year’s Ash Wednesday can be obtained from dried branches or leaves of plants or trees “since many parishes will find it difficult to secure old palm branches blessed in the celebration of Palm Sunday of 2020.”
This is according to the notes issued by Baguio Bishop Victor Bendico, chair of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Liturgy, on the distribution of ashes in the time of the pandemic.
The episcopal commission also recommended that due to the limitations imposed by the IATF on church attendance, the faithful who could come to church to participate in the Ash Wednesday celebration “be given a small plastic sachet containing blessed ashes that they in turn can impose to their family members.”
“Those who cannot come to church on this day can join the celebration of the Mass of Ash Wednesday on TV and other online means. They then can receive the ashes from family members who were able to go to church for the celebration and will bring home ashes for them," it said.
The CBCP will be providing parishes the guide for family prayer and imposition of ashes.
During the celebration of Ash Wednesday in the church, the priest says the prayer for blessing the ashes, sprinkles the ashes with holy water, without saying anything. He then addresses all those present and, only once, says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal applying it to all in general.
Other options in the manner of imposing the ashes include the sprinkling of ashes on the head of the faithful.
For those who wish to have the ashes on their forehead, cotton balls can be used in applying the ashes on their forehead.
“Each of the faithful who wants to receive the imposition of ashes approaches the minister. The minister, with the aid of a cotton ball dipped into the vessel of the blessed ashes, traces the cross on the forehead of the faithful. The minister uses a different cotton ball for each of the faithful,” the notes said.