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Ash Wednesday 2021

by Michael Ford last modified 12 Feb, 2021 08:47 PM

Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting. It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) and falls on the first day of Lent, which marks 6 weeks of penitence before Easter.

Ash Wednesday 2021

Original photo Pixabay

Ash Wednesday is traditionally observed by Western Christians and derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants to either the words "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or the dictum "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." The ashes are prepared by burning palm leaf crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebrations.

As you may know, it is the custom to ‘ash’ attendees at an Ash Wednesday service with an ash cross on their forehead, but this year, with the Covid restrictions in place, this will have to be done very differently.

Many of our churches are holding Zoom services, and details of what is being offered will be available on your local church's website. Where ashing is able to take place, it will be done by "sprinkling" to maintain social distancing.

Bishop Nicholas will also be presiding and preaching in the Cathedral at the 5.30pm Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes. The Bishop invites those who do not have their own services at this time to join him.

The service will be live streamed, here.

And if you would like to join in from home by placing ashes on your own forehead or those of your family members, here is how to make them:

  • Take an old palm leaf cross, cut it up, and place it in a flame proof container.
  • Set light to it - matches work best.
  • When it has burned to ashes, break them down to a fine ash.
  • Then take a little olive oil (any other oil will do, but olive oil is traditional) and mix the ashes with the oil. Make sure you don’t get them too wet.

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