The Archdiocese is looking at ways for ashes to be distributed on Ash Wednesday. Archbishop Jason Gordon gave this feedback Wednesday, January 20 responding to a question in CatholicTT’s Ask the Archbishop live monthly chat on Facebook.
Ash Wednesday is on February 17 this year, which marks the start of the penitential period of Lent during which prayer, fasting and acts of charity are done. Ashes symbolise man’s mortality and repentance.
With no end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Congregation for Divine Worship released a note January 12 outlining the procedures for priests worldwide to use for the distribution of ashes at the start of Lent.
It stated: “After blessing the ashes and sprinkling them with holy water in silence, the priest addresses those present, reciting once the formula found in the Roman Missal: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.
Vatican News reporting on the note stated, the priest “cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask, and distributes ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places.” He then sprinkles the ashes on each person’s head “without saying anything”.
Archbishop Gordon referred to the note and suggestion for ashes to be sprinkled on the head. However, he said feedback from some women was this “could pose some challenges”.
For Confirmations held in the Archdiocese, the chrism—holy oil, was applied to the forehead of the candidate using a Q-tip. This was an option which could be used. Archbishop Gordon said, “one way or the other, we will have ashes.”
He was asked about plans for this year. Archbishop Gordon said the Pope’s December 8 announcement of the year’s dedication to St Joseph was “uncanny”, “weird” and “wonderful”. He related that on Sunday, December 6, he was in a men’s retreat conducted virtually and was leading participants in a reflection.
He had advised them to focus on St Joseph in 2021 and for all men to do a 33-day preparation starting February 15, leading up to the consecration to St Joseph, March 19. He invited men to register for the event saying that they would receive what they needed to prepare daily.
“Over the 33 days, an attribute of St Joseph will be highlighted. It gives you 33 attributes to aspire towards,” Archbishop Gordon said. The Catholic Men’s Ministry is hosting this event.
Archbishop Gordon announced that author Mathew Kelly, whose books The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic and Rediscovering the Saints were distributed in parishes Christmas 2019 and 2020 respectively, will be the featured speaker on the day of consecration, the Feast of St Joseph, Friday, March 19.
He said, “He [Kelly] has agreed to do something for T&T and the Caribbean. It will be a wonderful event to have a push for men to understand their role as men.”
On December 27, 2020, the Feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis announced a special year dedicated to the family. This year is the fifth anniversary of the publication of Amoris Laetitia.
Archbishop Gordon hinted that for the year of the family something will be planned for Pentecost. He told host Catholic Media Services Ltd’s Web and Social Media Officer Tshenelle Bethel-Peters, since last June, he was looking at the challenge to families and their pain during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Archbishop said he wrote a reflection which became a pastoral direction that the family should be the focus. “Unless we work with the family and help the family to engage differently, the parish is not going to change, and the school is not going to change.”
He recalled the time when there was a “daily excellence of [the] practice of Catholicism in the family and in the school”. When both started to wane, parishes no longer received people who were “formed in the way that we think they should be, and we keep getting surprised”.
Archbishop Gordon added that the Archdiocese has shifted the focus to the family’s having daily practice of excellence in living their faith. “From that, we start to see the school and the parish coming to new places.”
By Lara Pickford Gordon