Today is Ash Wednesday: the Pope does not change the program of the celebrations

Today is Ash Wednesday: the Pope does not change the program of the celebrations

The Carnival ends and Lent begins, a time of penance in anticipation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for Christians: the ashes represent the symbol of man’s fragility before God. For the Coronavirus emergency in many Italian churches there is no they will be celebrations, but the Vatican confirms the rites.

“Man, remember that you are ashes and that ashes you will return”. With these words, during the celebration that starts the Lent, the priest marks the foreheads of the faithful, dropping some ash obtained by burning blessed palms. Hence also the way of saying “sprinkle your head with ashes “ to indicate one’s repentance.

The “Ash Wednesday” officially closes the holiday period of Carnevale and begins that of reflection that will lead to death and then to resurrection of Jesus Christon the day of Easter which for Catholics, in 2020, will fall on April 12th. The memory of death in the liturgy was, however, attenuated by the Second Vatican Council, which also provides for the use of a softer formula: “convert and believe in the Gospel”, taking up a phrase from the Gospel of Mark.

The ashes are a symbol, which recalls the frailty of man before the omnipotence of God. Abraham, in the book of Genesis, already addressed the Lord with humility, admitting that he was “only dust and ashes”, while Job, in homonymous book, in order to humble himself he claimed to “blend in with dust and ash”. Ash, in the Bible, is also a sign of repentance: in the book of Jonah the king of the city of Nineveh, having heard of the conversion of his people, sits on the ashes, while in the book of Judith the inhabitants, invoking God to save them, sprinkle their heads with ashes.

Covid Bulletin, 110,168 infections and 106 deaths from Coronavirus in Italy today: data from Wednesday 13 July

For the Ash Wednesday the Catholic church provides clear rules regarding the fasting and abstinence from meat, which on this day, like Good Friday, are mandatory. The obligation of fasting concerns all Catholics between 18 and 60 who do not have particular diseases. The fasting rule requires only one meal during the day and allows the ingestion of water and medicines. In recent years, the Italian Episcopal Conference, with its own pastoral note, have added new forms of abstinence, in addition to that from food: from smoking and alcoholic beverages, from the search for excessive forms of entertainment, from consumerist behaviors and from television.

For the first time in history, in many Italian cities the rite of ashes will not be celebrated as churches are closed forCoronavirus emergency. The program in the Vatican has not changed, however, given that Pope Francis will perform the rites according to tradition. Tonight the pontiff will lead a procession from the church of Sant’Anselmo to that of Santa Sabina. Immediately afterwards he will preside over the mass with the rite of blessing and imposition of the ashes on the faithful. In this case, therefore, the priests and other ministers who will impart the ashes will have physical contact with the faithful. No “Ash Wednesday”on the other hand, in the archdiocese of Milan, the largest in Europe: the Ambrosian rite, different from the Roman one, in fact does not provide for the imposition of ashes and moves the beginning of Lent to the following Sunday.

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