February 17, 2021
Liturgies with Distribution of Ashes
8:00 am Mass
12:00 pm Prayer Service
5:00 pm Prayer Service
7:00 pm Mass
For Ash Wednesday,Vatican asks priests to ‘sprinkle’ ashes on heads
The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments asked priests to take special anti-COVID-19 precautions this year when distributing ashes on Ash Wednesday, including sprinkling ashes on the top of people’s heads rather than using them to make a cross on people’s foreheads.
The congregation’s note on the “distribution of ashes in time of pandemic” directs priests to say “the prayer for blessing the ashes” and then sprinkle “the ashes with holy water.”
“Then he addresses all those present and only once says the formula as it appears in the Roman Missal, applying it to all in general: ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel’ or ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.'”
Sprinkling ashes on the top of people’s heads, rather than marking foreheads with ashes, is the customary practice at the Vatican and in Italy. Given the spread of the coronavirus, the practice has the advantage of not requiring the priest to touch multiple people.
Catholic News Service, Jan 12, 2021