Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, is only a week away and all of us are familiar with our Ash Wednesday Catholic customs in the United States–Mass with the imposition of ashes in the form of a cross on the forehead, fasting, repentance and abstinence from meat. Good Friday is also a day of abstinence from meat as are all Fridays during Lent (see below for Fish Fry Parish locations).
Ash Wednesday Change
This year, with COVID-19 making personal contact a danger, the Vatican, through the Congregation for Divine Worship, has instructed our Clergy to change practice. This year, our Priest, Deacon or Assisting Ministers are to sprinkle ashes on our head. Please click on the following Webpage from the Vatican News Website: VaticanNewsAshWedChange.
Why sprinkle ashes? The imposing of ashes on the forehead in the form of a cross is only done here in the U.S. and in a few of the African countries. For most of the Catholic world, the Ash Wednesday custom is the sprinkling of ashes on the head, in keeping with ancient tradition. The tradition of sprinkling ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday began in the middle of the 11th century. Prior to then, ashes were not a part of Ash Wednesday, instead, they were apart of confession. Early Christians adopted the sprinkling of ashes on the head as a sign because of its familiarity, it was part of Jewish tradition at the time of Christ.
Change Heart and Mind
So, this year, we can still receive our ashes on Ash Wednesday as we begin our annual journey of conversion in preparation for renewing our baptismal promises and renewing our commitment to be missionary disciples of Christ every day. The ashes may not be as visible this year, but that is fine. What is important is our interiority—the focus on changing our heart and mind.
While we are strongly encouraged to attend or watch Mass on Ash Wednesday in order to begin the Lenten season with the proper reflection and mindset, Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation. For your reference and use, please click on to the present CDOMDecree from Bishop Talley and the ActofSpiritualCommunion prayer–if unable to attend Masses. Also, please check Parish Bulletins, Websites, Facebook pages, Flocknotes, etc. for Public and Streaming on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17) Masses.
Fish Fry Fridays
Here are our Fish Fry Fridays locations within our Memphis Diocese, which is on our Website—click here: CDOMLentFishFry. The list continues to grow as Parishes send in their Fish Fry information. Also, please check Parish Bulletins, Websites and Facebook pages for any Fish Fry plans.