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The distribution of ashes during a pandemic

The Ash Wednesday Mass marks the beginning of the season of Lent, and this year this event is going to look different at Benedictine.  

Father Steven Mills explained the specific points in the Mass that will be changed to stop the spread of COVID-19.  

“The celebrant will bless the ashes and will say only once over everyone the statement that is usually said for the individual distribution of ashes,” Mills said. 

After the prayers, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” are said, the priests will then place a pinch on the top of the heads of the people who come forward. 

Megan Smith, junior, said she will miss the opportunity to have ashes marked on her forehead, but understands the bigger picture at hand. 

“I think the changes are smart since we will still be able to celebrate Ash Wednesday’s importance,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, pandemics do not go away overnight, but, the ability to still go to Mass is much more important and should be appreciated more than having ashes on our foreheads.”  

For this season of Lent, Father Mills encourages those who have been struggling during the pandemic to grow their faith through community. 

“The pandemic has distanced us all. So maybe writing a letter to someone, sending a text, or phone call will help build community in a time when it has felt so fractured, Mills said. 

Smith is trying to do her part in this season of Lent. 

“Making small sacrifices, going to mass, and praying won’t fix the pandemic, but I think it’s a good place to start. We need to help by praying for those who have been affected by the virus, Smith said. 

Lent begins today. Holy Week begins March 28 and concludes the season with Easter Sunday on April 4.  

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