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Catholics to celebrate ashes day without regular masses

By Emelda Siama John

The Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of archdiocese of Juba Santo LokuPioDoggale has directed Catholic faithful to mark the Ash Wednesday at home due to Covid-19 related restrictions.

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting. It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday and falls on the first day of Lent, the six weeks of repentance before Easter.

The practice of marking worshippers’ foreheads with ashes in the shape of a cross is one of the rituals performed to mark the day.

The just imposed partial lockdown prohibits mass worshipping in churches and other public gatherings until 4th of March.

Bishop Santo said individual worshipers will receive ashes at their own private time from morning to evening to avoid crowds at every parish across the state today.

Fr. Samuel Abe the general Secretary of Catholic diocese of Jubaalso said while, a few number of priests, altar boys and legions of Mary will hold regular early mass, churches will remain close for public worship and individual faithful are accepted to be given ashes at private times.

“The 17th February, 2021 is the start of our holy season of lent, our Christians are accepted to be given ashes but since our churches are closed for public worship for one month from the 3rdof March February 2021. In consultation with His Grace Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, we are adjusting our services in the parishes as follow: Ashes are blessed by the priests daily in anearlier mass of 6:00am, distribution by sprinkling on the heads,” he said in a statement obtained by Juba Monitor.

“Faithful can come one by one in any private in the parish to receive ashes while keeping social distancing and wearing facemasks. Ashes will be received daily in the parishes from Wednesday morning, 17th February up to the evening of 21st February 2021, the first Sunday of Lent,” he added.

Many Christian denominations across the world emphasize fasting as well as abstinence during the season of Lent and in particular, on its first day, Ash Wednesday.

In the Roman Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fastingabstinence from meat and repentance.

On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Roman Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 (whose health enables them to do so) are permitted to consume one full meal, along with two smaller meals, which together should not equal the full meal

As it is the first day of Lent, many Christians begin Ash Wednesday by marking a Lenten calendar, praying a Lenten daily devotional, and making a Lenten sacrifice that they will not partake of until the arrival of Eastertide..

The first Ash Wednesday ceremonies were likely held sometime in 11th centuryCE (Common Era) according to some scholars while others suggested that the practice began earlier than estimated.

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