Ash Wednesday rites in Tucson to be held outdoors because of pandemic precautions

Ash Wednesday rites in Tucson to be held outdoors because of pandemic precautions
A woman prays after having the sign of the cross placed on her forehead in ash during an Ash Wednesday service last year. (Source: Elaine Thompson)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The leadership of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson is telling its pastors and parishioners that while indoor daily Masses will be permitted beginning Feb. 15, only outdoor Masses may be celebrated on Ash Wednesday.

Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger has asked pastors to provide multiple occasions for a simple outdoor reception of ashes in parish parking lots throughout the day on Ash Wednesday, which falls on Feb. 17 this year.

Instead of marking the foreheads of the faithful with ash, the ashes will be sprinkled over their heads, preventing physical touch. The Minister of ashes must be masked.

The diocese has approved the use of individual cotton balls or cotton swabs an alternative method to apply ash on the forehead.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a solemn period of 40 days of prayer and self-denial leading up to Easter.

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