Church to faithful: Fast, bring ashes to ash Wednesday mass

THE Archdiocese of Cebu has reminded the faithful to observe fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, a holy Christian day of prayer and fasting on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.

Msgr. Joseph Tan, Archdiocese of Cebu spokesperson, said though the faithful are encouraged to attend mass on Ash Wednesday, which signals the start of Lent, it is not a holy day of obligation unlike Sunday masses.

“You may not go to mass. You may not receive communion. You may not receive the Ashes, but you have to fast and observe abstinence,” he said.

Tan said the receiving of ashes, a devotional or symbolic way of entering Lent, is not obligatory.

Likewise, Fr. Japheth Geonzon, vice chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission on Worship and member of the pastoral team of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, said healthy Catholics must follow the fasting and abstinence whether or not they have done the devotional act of imposition of ashes.

Geonzon said the sick and persons under medication are not obliged to fast.

He said individuals 14 years old up to 60 years old are required to observe fasting or the limiting of food intake to only one full meal.

Geonzon said there are options given on how to do the imposition of ashes on persons who will physically attend the Ash Wednesday masses.

He said priests could impose the ashes on the forehead by using cotton balls (provided one cotton ball is used per individual); the preferred way, he said, is the sprinkling of the ashes on the crown area of the person’s head.

At the Cathedral, he said, masses will be celebrated hourly from 6 a.m to 10 a.m. The masses will resume at 12:15 p.m. and the hourly masses will end past 6 p.m.

Geonzon said members of a family who will be physically attending masses can bring ashes to the Cathedral and have them blessed so they can also impose these on their family members who were not able to attend mass physically on the condition that these members attend mass virtually.

The faithful, he said, can make ashes by burning dried leaves or dried twigs.

He said they will be providing a table at the Cathedral where the faithful can place their receptacles containing ashes and have them blessed by the priests during the blessings part of the celebration.

The minimum health protocol inside churches must also be observed on Ash Wednesday such as the 50 percent maximum capacity for churches in areas under the modified general community quarantine status, social distancing and the mandatory wearing of face shields and masks. (WBS)

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