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Catholic Prayer: Blessing and Distribution of Ashes

Description:

During the Mass on Ash Wednesday, ashes are blessed and distributed after the homily.

Prayer:

After the Homily, the Priest, standing with hands joined, says:

Dear brethren (brothers and sisters),
let us humbly ask God our Father
that he be pleased to bless with the abundance of his grace
these ashes, which we will put on our heads in penitence.

After a brief prayer in silence, and, with hands extended, he continues:

O God, who are moved by acts of humility
and respond with forgiveness to works of penance,
lend your merciful ear to our prayers
and in your kindness pour out the grace of your + blessing
on your servants who are marked with these ashes,
that, as they follow the Lenten observances,
they may be worthy to come with minds made pure
to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of your Son.
Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

Or

O God, who desire not the death of sinners,
but their conversion,
mercifully hear our prayers
and in your kindness be pleased to bless + these ashes
which we intend to receive upon our heads,
that we, who acknowledge we are but ashes
and shall return to dust,
may, through a steadfast observance of Lent,
gain pardon for sins and newness of life
after the likeness of your Risen Son.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

He sprinkles the ashes with holy water, without saying anything. Then the Priest places ashes on the head of all those present who come to him, and says to each one:

Repent and believe in the Gospel.

Or

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Meanwhile, the following are sung:

ANTIPHON 1 Let us change our garments to sackcloth and ashes, let us fast and weep before the Lord, that our God, rich in mercy, might forgive us our sins.

ANTIPHON 2 Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, stand between the porch and the altar and weep and cry out: Spare, O Lord, spare your people; do not close the mouths of those who sing your praise, O Lord.

ANTIPHON 3 Blot out transgressions, O Lord.

This may be repeated after each verse of Psalm 51 (50) (Have mercy on me, O God.).

RESPONSORY

R. Let us correct our faults which we have committed in ignorance, let us not be taken unawares by the day of our death, looking in vain for leisure to repent. Hear us, O Lord, and show us your mercy, for we have sinned against you.

V. Help us, O God our Savior; for the sake of your name, O Lord, set us free. Hear us, O Lord....

Another appropriate chant may be sung.

After the distribution of ashes, the Priest washes his hands and proceeds to the Universal Prayer, and continues the Mass in the usual way.

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