Ash Wednesday for urban areas

KOTA KINABALU: The head of the Catholic Archdiocese, here, gave two options on the distribution of ashes for local parishes on Ash Wednesday, Feb 17.

St Simon Catholic Church Likas parish is opting for “Option B” where it’s not possible to send blessed ashes to all parishioners, especially in urban areas during MCO 2.0.

“Priests are reminded to bless more ashes as it may be needed later,” the statement issued by Archbishop John Wong said.

The faithful are urged to watch the parish’s live-stream Mass at 7.30pm and prepare ashes in their respective homes. Old palm leaves from the previous Palm Sundays can be burnt to make the ashes and only a small portion is needed.

Those who do not have palm leaves from previous Palm Sundays can get any dried leaves (not necessarily palms) to make the ashes.

St Simon Likas parish will have its own live-stream Mass for the Ash Wednesday service and parishioners at home may follow these steps during the sprinkling of ashes:

  • Heads of families to sprinkle the ashes on the crown of the head of the members of the household. This is to be carried out at the same time when the priest sprinkles ashes on the head of those at Mass during the livestream
  • As ashes are sprinkled on the the crown of the head (and not trace on the forehead), the head of the family may remain silent or say “Repent and believe in the Gospel”
Pope Francis distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday 2020.  (Photo: Vaticannews)

The rector will “give a reasonable amount of time for those watching to complete the sprinkling of ashes at home before he proceeds with the Mass”.

Meanwhile, parishes may consider carrying out physical distribution of blessed ashes after Ash Wednesday should the MCO end on Feb 18.

“However, the distribution of ashes in church should be completed before the Third Sunday of Lent,” the prelate added.

Download the full statement from the archbishop below:

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