After the January 11, 2021, directives were sent regarding sacramentals from the Archdiocese of Newark, the Vatican and the USCCB published directives for the blessing of throats and the distribution of ashes.
The Archdiocese is therefore retracting its directives for these two items and replacing it with the following memo on both topics which was sent from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (USA). It sums up both directives.
The Archdiocesan directives regarding holy water remain in place for the time being.
Once the Vatican provides updated materials for the celebration of Holy Week they will be distributed.
Thank you for your patience and understanding during these changing times. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Worship Office.
The Distribution of Ashes on Ash Wednesday (February 17, 2021) On January 12, 2021, Archbishop Leonard Blair, Chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, issued a memorandum to all the Bishops of the United States. In it he wrote, “While Ash Wednesday is not a holyday of obligation and while there is no requirement for the clergy 2 and faithful to receive the imposition of ashes, it is rightly observed as a celebration of high importance, and many will surely wish to participate even amid the current difficulties.” Archbishop Blair then shared a message from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He writes, “During this time of pandemic, the Holy See has modified the method of distributing the ashes, as outlined in the “Note” on page 3: Archbishop Blair notes that “these changes minimize the necessity of physical contact between minister and recipient and removes the need for the minister to speak while in close proximity to the recipient. The distribution of ashes via sprinkling is a common practice in some countries but is not well known here. Therefore, the Committee encouraged ministers to provide some explanation to the faithful, to avoid unnecessary confusion. Note also that the Book of Blessings provides instructions for the distribution of ashes outside of Mass (nos. 1656-1678).”