Catholic churches in the Philippines prepare today (Tuesday, March 8) for the beginning of Lent with rites that that will produce the ashes that will be put on the forehead of the faithful tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.
The ashes are produced by burning the palms which were blessed during the previous year’s celebration of Palm Sunday. Parishes usually assign the afternoon mass for the burning of the ashes. Parishioners bring their palms to the church to be thrown into the fire. The priest begins the rites with a call for the faithful to do penance and show mercy. In his opening prayer he asks “God of tender mercy … to look on us with kindness as we prepare the ashes, which will mark the beginning of our Lenten journey…”
After the opening prayer the congregation listens to the reading taken from Isaiah 58:5-10.
The priest blesses the palms while the choir sings Psalm 51.
After the palms have been burned, the priest then blesses the ashes.
On Ash Wednesday, a day of universal fast and abstinence in the Catholic Church, the ashes are imposed on the forehead of the faithful and begins 40 days of atonement of sins, doing penance and good works.
Following is the rite for the Burning of Ashes.
Palms to Ashes
In Preparation for Lent
Greeting and Sign of the Cross
The presider makes the sign of the cross and greets those assembled, hoping that God calls the faithful to do penance and show mercy. All remain silent for a brief period.
God of tender mercy, you fashioned us from the dust of earth and bid us follow your Gospel call in the company of the Church. Look on us with kindness as we prepare the ashes which will mark the beginning of our Lenten journey. Grant that we who make the desert pilgrimage might come to the font of rebirth with a renewed passion for justice. May our alms serve your people and bring us peace, may prayer sanctify all our deeds, and may we come at last to the table you set in the place where you reign with Christ and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
The lector proclaims: Isaiah 58:5-10
After the reading, a homily may be given.
Psalms and burning of the ashes
The lector or choir leads the assembly in Psalm 51 as the palms are burned.
The ritual concludes with the Blessing of the Ashes.
bless these ashes [ + ]
by which we [ will ] show that we are dust.
Pardon our sins
and keep us faithful to the discipline of Lent,
for you do not want sinners to die
but to live with the risen Christ,
who reigns with you forever and ever.
After this blessing the Presider together with the people make a procession towards the Church. The people can sing an appropriate hymn. When the Presider has reached his place in the sanctuary, he faces the people and begins the opening prayer of the Mass. Then the Mass continues in the usual manner.