Ash Wednesday, the doorway into our Lenten season of renewal, will be observed a little differently in 2021. Due to social distancing and the need to limit contact to combat the spread of Covid-19, some of our practice and observance this year will be in our homes.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of our Bishops’ Conference, has circulated his Pastoral Letter for the start of the season of Lent with the invitation to celebrate Ash Wednesday at home.

1.      Gather together and start with the Sign of the Cross.
2.      Read the Gospel for today. It is from St Matthew’s Gospel, 6.1-6 and 16-18.
3.      Say together the prayer given in this Pastoral Letter.
4.      Make the Sign of the Cross on each other’s forehead, using the words you choose.
5.      Pray together: the Our Father; the Hail Mary; each one with his or her own prayer or intention.
6.      Conclude with the ‘Glory be to the Father...’
7.      Give each other a sign of peace.

Read the full article from the Bishops' Conference

For those who do attend Ash Wednesday services this year ashes will be sprinkled on the top of people’s heads rather than the usual way of making a sign of the cross on the forehead. This is the standard way of receiving ashes in Italy and other parts of the world.

Lent and Easter 2021 in the Archdiocese and beyond