More Catholics turn out each year to receive the ashes than any other holy day on the calendar. When Ash Wednesday arrives this year on Feb. 17 parishes will look for creative ways to distribute the ashes while maintaining Covid-19-related safe distancing.

The nature of Ash Wednesday – huge crowds, the direct touching of thousands of foreheads by church ministers – will make it a challenge. But in a Jan. 29 memo, the diocese offered several alternatives for distribution of the ashes.

Clergy and others distributing the ashes at parishes are prohibited from the usual method of applying the ashes to the recipient’s forehead in the sign of the cross. Instead, they are advised to sprinkle a small amount of the ashes on the crown of the recipient’s head. Another alternative offered by the diocese is for the minister to sprinkle a small amount of ashes into the palm of the recipient’s hand, avoiding direct touch, and then the recipient would make the sign of the cross on their own forehead with the ashes. A third option offered is for the recipient to dip their own cotton ball or swab into the container of ashes and, with it, make the sign of the cross on their forehead….The above comes from a Feb. 4 story in the Inland Catholic Byte.