The health situation caused by Covid-19 continues to forces changes on daily life, also reflected in the Church’s sphere.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has published a note detailing how Catholic priests are to distribute ashes.
After blessing the ashes and sprinkling them with holy water in silence, the priest should address 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 should cleanse his hands, put on a face mask, and distribute ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he should go to those who are standing in their places. He would then sprinkle the ashes on each person’s head “without saying anything.”
Pope Francis has also encouraged Catholics to practice charity in Lent this year by caring for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In his message for Lent 2021, the pope asked people to “experience Lent with love,” which “rejoices in seeing others grow.”
“To experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep in mind the Lord’s word to his Servant, ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you’ (Isaiah 43:1). In our charity, may we speak words of reassurance and help others to realise that God loves them as sons and daughters,” Pope Francis wrote in the message published Feb. 12.
The pope emphasised that even a small amount of almsgiving when offered with “joy and simplicity” can multiply, as did “the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd.”
“Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness,” he said.