Catholics in Bohol and the rest of the country will be allowed to receive ash crosses on Ash Wednesday to mark the start of Lent for the first time in two years in which the Church broke tradition due to COVID-19 restrictions.
According to Fr. Efren Bongay, episcopal clergy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran and the parish priest of the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, they decided to revert to the practice of placing ash on foreheads as COVID-19 restrictions were eased by the government.
“Ugma pohon mao ang Ash Wednesday, unang adlaw sa Lenten season, ibalik na na crossan ang agtang ang mga mo-attend sa Misa,” said Bongay.
“Karon na [Alert] Level 2 na ta unya ni luag-luag na pud ang IATF aning dapita, pagkakaron naka-decide mi sa Cathedral na butangan gyud og cross ang buna,” he added.
In 2020 and 2021, the Catholic hierarchy altered the Ash Wednesday rites.
To avoid physical contact, ash was sprinkled on the crown of the heads of the faithful instead of being wiped to mark crosses on foreheads.
In Bohol, some parishes innovated and used cotton balls to wipe ash on foreheads of the faithful, said Bongay.
The St. Joseph’s Cathedral will hold seven Holy Masses on Ash Wednesday.
“Atong gi dugangan ang Masses up to seven kay normally four to five masses ra man ang regular Mass, so to accommodate sa mga taw na gustong mo sunod gyud sa mensaha ug pagtulon-an sa panahon sa Kuwerasma mao ng atong gi dugangan,” said Bongay.
These will be celebrated at 6:15 a.m, 7:15 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 noon, 4 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 6: 30 p.m.
The 5:15 p.m. Mass will be led by Bishop Abet Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran.
Bongay said Ash Wednsday marks the start of the Lenten season in which the faithful prepare for Christ’s resurrection by repenting.
“Sa Ash Wednesday atong e-prepare ang atong kaugalingon sa pagsulod nato sa panahon sa Kuwaresma which is ang tumong is to reflect, not only on the passion of death, but also looking forward for the resurrection,” said Bongay.
“Unya kitang mga katawhan, nagdamgo na dili lang ta kutob sa pag-antos, mabanhaw gyud ta kauban ni Kristo,” he added. (R. Tutas)