Churches Are Distributing Ashes Very Differently this Year
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. The Lenten season is a very important one to us Catholics as it is the 40 days that leads up to Easter, the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. On Ash Wednesday, palm leaves are burned down to ashes and a priest blesses those ashes. The ashes are then usually distributed to parish members by making a sign of the cross on their foreheads. Usually whoever is putting the ashes on foreheads will say something along the lines of "You are dust and to dust you shall return." There is another phrase that could be said as well, it depends on the parish. The ashes are displayed on your forehead for either remainder of the day or until you take a shower.
Due to the Pandemic, my parish St. Cecilia's in Monmouth Junction, as well as the rest of the churches in our Diocese have come up with a unique and safe way to distribute ashes for Ash Wednesday. The Reverend, Deacon, or Priest of the parish will bless all the ashes at once and say the prayer over all of them. Then to avoid skin-to-skin contact, the ashes will be imposed in silence with a single-use Q-Tip. There will be a new Q-Tip will be used for each person. I think this will put a lot of people at ease and make them happy to celebrate Ash Wednesday safely.
I love Easter Sunday, it's a wonderful day to be Catholic. I especially love being in church on Easter Sunday. It's such a joyous time, like Christmas, we celebrate Jesus. Easter isn't just about gathering and eating food, for me. It's about what it represents in our religion. Last year, there was no gathering for Easter, but now my family and I have been seeing each other and 95% of us are vaccinated, so we will get together for Easter this year and I am so excited about it.