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Catholics Urged to Burn Own Palms for Ash Wednesday

To help curb the spread of COVID-19, the faithful are encouraged to burn their own palms and sprinkle ashes among themselves on February 17.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the Apostolic Administrator of Manila, is urging Catholics to burn their own palms and sprinkle ashes among themselves on Ash Wednesday, February 17.

In a circular distributed among the parishioners of the Archdiocese of Manila, Bishop Pabillo said that they will allow the observance of Ash Wednesday in people’s homes. (Read: Vatican Rolls Out New Guidelines for Priests on Ash Wednesday)

This means that the faithful who cannot physically go to church on the said day may be able to hold the ceremonial burning of palms or leaves at their respective homes, and sprinkle ashes among themselves.

“For those who will not be able to go to church for the celebration of Ash Wednesday, we are providing the liturgical celebrations of burning of palms or any dried leaves to ashes and the liturgy of Ash Wednesday for families at home,” Bishop Pabillo said.

Ash Wednesday Guidelines

Pope Francis sprinkles ashes on a cardinal’s head during the Ash Wednesday mass at the Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome, Italy February 14, 2018. (Photo from Vatican Media / Handout / Reuters)

In light of the ongoing health crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has issued an amended set of guidelines for this year’s Ash Wednesday celebrations.

Instead of the usual practice of using ashes to make a cross on people’s foreheads, priests will now sprinkle ashes on the heads of the faithful. (Read: Five Interesting Facts About Ash Wednesday)

They are also instructed to address the penitents as a group, and only recite 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 priest must cleanse his hands, put on a face mask, and distribute ashes to those who come to him — or, if appropriate, he must go to those who are standing in their places and sprinkle ashes on them on the head without saying anything.

This year’s Ash Wednesday falls on the 17th of February. The event marks the start of the Lenten season for Catholics all over the world. (Read: Five Books to Inspire Reflection this Lenten Season)

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