The Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, has said that the Ash Wednesday service this year would be a little different from previous years.
The priest, who disclosed this to newsmen on Monday in Lagos, said the difference would be to comply with the protocols, to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Rev. Fr. Godonu, who is also the Parish Priest of Catholic Church of the Presentation, FESTAC Town, said that this year, the words usually said individually to the worshippers before rubbing them ash, would be said communally.
He said: “In the Catholic liturgy, there is usually a rite of the blessings of ashes, then the Holy Water is sprinkled and thereafter, the ashes is rubbed on the foreheads of worshippers who come for the ceremony.”
He, however, noted that the difference in the Ash Wednesday service compared to that of previous years was in line with guidelines rolled out by the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr Alfred Martins.
He added that the protocol for getting the ash on the forehead would be like receiving the Holy Communion, though with face masks on and hands on the chest.
“Then the priest, without saying anything because those words that we usually say to individuals will be said in a communal manner, will be said once and for all to everyone”.
“Remember, you are dust and unto dust shall you return’ or ‘Repent and believe in him.’
“Either of the two, not both together. Then the priest, who’s also wearing face mask puts the ashes on foreheads as we usually do.
“Those are the protocols we are following this year,” Godonu said.
He further said that the Ash Wednesday mass is open to everyone and non-Catholics can also receive ash.
Earlier, the priest had explained that “though everyone is created in the image and likeness of God, the ash is significant, reminding Christians that they are from dust.
“We are dust and unto dust we shall return at the end of our physical existence on this earth”.
“For that reason, with that at the back of our minds, we are supposed to live everyday in preparation for the time we shall return to dust”.
“How do we prepare for it? We should prepare for that day which we don’t know by repenting and believing the good news,” he said.
The Priest added that another major significance of Ash Wednesday is that it ushers in the 40 days journey of Lent, in preparation for the Easter celebration.