LENTEN OBSERVANCE AND RESOURCES—ARCHDIOCESE OF ST. LOUIS
The Blessing of Ashes should take place within the celebration of the Mass or a scheduled service consisting of at least an appointed Scripture reading and a brief homily stressing the meaning of the ashes as a symbol of penance and self-denial. Please refer to the Book of Blessing for additional information that will be of assistance to you in this matter.
In the case of genuine pastoral necessity, Archbishop Carlson has given permission for lay ministers (for example, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion) to assist the priest and deacon in the distribution of the blessed ashes.
The Blessing of the Ashes is reserved to the priest or deacon, and priests and deacons should participate in the distribution of the ashes, whenever possible. They are the primary ministers of the ritual.
ARCHDIOCESAN LENTEN REGULATIONS
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
The Church has always helped us fulfill these words of Jesus by prescribing very definite penance for all Catholics, so that we too might have Eternal life. Accordingly, the Pope and the American Bishops have outlined obligatory fast and abstinence as follows:
Ash Wednesday (February 26, 2020), all Fridays of Lent and Good Friday (April 10, 2020) are days of abstinence (refraining from meat) for all Catholics from age 14 onwards. On these two days, fast, as well as abstinence, is also obligatory for those from the ages of 18-59. Abstinence means refraining from meat. Fast means one full meal a day, with two smaller meals and nothing between meals (liquids are permitted). No Catholic will lightly excuse himself or herself from this obligation.