Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, the Priest-in-Charge of Catholic Church of the Presentation, Festac Town, Lagos State,
has said that the Ash Wednesday service this year would be a little different from that of previous years.
The Priest told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos that the difference was to comply with the protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Godonu, who is also the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, said that this year, the words usually said individually to the worshippers before giving the ash would
be said communally.
He said that “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 put 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 collecting the ash would be like that of 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. (NAN)