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Here's how COVID-19 has changed Ash Wednesday

With COVID in mind, there is a slight change for Catholics receiving ashes and the priest who is distributing them this Ash Wednesday.

NEW ORLEANS — Catholics are receiving ashes today with COVID protocols in mind.

Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent and signals the Catholic’s repentance for sins. The ashes are normally placed on the person’s forehead by a priest using his thumb, but this year there are some COVID protocols in place.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has suggested that in 2021, after blessing ashes and sprinkling them with Holy Water, the priest can say “Remember that you were dust and to dust you shall return.”

At that point priest would clean his hands, put on face mask and distribute ashes by sprinkling them on the heads of the faithful without saying anything.

In the New Orleans Archdiocese, Archbishop Gregory Aymond has offered priests a little more leeway, allowing them to either: Sprinkle ashes on the crown of the person’s head or use a cotton swab to apply the ashes to the forehead, or finally, providing a sanitizing wipe for the recipient to use before the ashes are applied.

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