For Catholics, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten Season.
The religious ritual involves a priest placing the sign of the cross on the parishioners’ forehead using ashes from consecrated palm leaves.
There’s a religious or liturgical symbolism in the ceremony — the ashes symbolize penance and mortality, according to Catholic tradition.
With Guam still under PCOR2, health and safety guidelines still apply to all social and religious gatherings. So what protocols are in place for this Ash Wednesday?
Pale Paul Gofigan, the chairperson for the Archdiocese Liturgical Commission, spoke to NewsTalk K57”s Patti Arroyo about these changes.
“We are trying to avoid touching. The priest will say the prayer … the words that are actually said when the ashes are distributed,” Gofigan said.
The Vatican directive for Ash Wednesday involves the priest blessing the ashes with holy water, and then, saying the traditional Catholic invocation, according to a report from Vatican News — the news portal of the Holy See.
Then the priest washes his hands, puts on a face mask then approaches the parishioners or distributes the ashes.
After that, the ashes are sprinkled over the crown of the head, instead of smudged, to avoid physical contact between the priest and parishioners.
Pale Paul says the process is not new and that it is actually steeped in Catholic tradition.
“We say that this is a new way but it is really the old way. In the Roman Missal, just the ashes are used and not anointing. We are kinda doing it the original way,” Gofigan said.
Gofigan also mentioned that they have protocols and mitigation plans in place for performing Church sacraments. In fact, the archdiocese has already submitted these plans to Public Health so that the churches can remain open and continue serving the community.
The Catholic Church’s seven sacraments include baptism, anointing of the sick, confirmation, and marriage.