Irish Church distributes ashes to take away for a confined Lent

In full containment against the coronavirus, the Irish Church inaugurated on Wednesday the start of the Lent period by offering the faithful ashes to take away, to allow them to celebrate the Christian ritual at home.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception on the outskirts of Dublin prepared 500 sachets of ashes for the day.

“We cannot use the traditional way of imposing ashes on people’s foreheads, because the risk that wet ashes contain infectious material is too high,” Father Padraig O’Sullivan told AFP.

Father Brian Brady shows holy ashes distributed to worshipers at the start of Lent on February 17, 2021 in front of St. Mary’s Church in Clonmany, Ireland’s Donegal County (AFP – Paul Faith)

“Instead, we put the ashes in small sachets, which we distribute to people,” he explains.

Currently confined for the third time, Ireland deplores 3,980 deaths from the coronavirus for five million inhabitants, after an outbreak of the epidemic such that, in early January, the country experienced the highest rate of contagion in the world.

But the faithful can still go to a church to pray alone and collect ashes at the altar, where Father O’Sullivan blesses them.

Once back home, the ashes can be used for the Ash Wednesday ritual, which marks the start of Lent, mixed with water, much like making powdered soup.

“It’s very unusual but you have to do it, it’s part of who I am”, explains Susanne Glennon, a faithful, after signing herself in the parking lot.

On the benches, posters indicating the distances to be respected are placed and near the candles is a warning: “Warning! Hydroalcoholic gel is highly flammable! Please be careful”.

In the village of Clonmany in County Donegal at the northwestern tip, the take-out ashes were laid out in small jars usually used for sauces.

A trader, Joe Joyce, brought 600 of these small plastic containers to Father Brian Brady of St. Mary’s Church, where they were blessed and left for worshipers in three chapels.

Father Brian Brady shows holy ashes distributed to the faithful for the start of Lent on February 17, 2021 in Clonmany, in the Irish county of Donegal (AFP - Paul Faith)
Father Brian Brady shows holy ashes distributed to the faithful for the start of Lent on February 17, 2021 in Clonmany, in the Irish county of Donegal (AFP – Paul Faith)

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, corresponding to the 40 days of Christ’s desert crossing.

Ashes are traditionally obtained by burning palm leaves and applied to the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of penance.


Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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