Memo from the Bishop’s Office
We are approaching Ash Wednesday, Lent and Holy Week, a liturgically rich season in the Church. Over the past two years, the pandemic has shaped some of our worship practices, but now as our knowledge of the COVID-19 virus and how it is transmitted has increased, it is appropriate to adapt our protocols. The College of Bishops, in consultation with the wider Church and the Bishop’s Committee on Healing Ministries, offers these liturgical guidelines for Lent 2022.
Masks must be worn at all times, for all of these actions.
Imposition of Ashes
- Ashes may be imposed on the forehead, with cotton balls, Q-tips or with the thumb. The minister need not sanitize their hands between each person.
- As with the distribution of holy communion, physical distancing must be maintained as people come forward to receive the imposition of ashes.
- It is recommended that the minister speak the words of imposition (“Remember that you are but dust…”) from a physical distance of two metres, before moving forward to touch the person.
- Alternatively, those worshippers who prefer not to be touched should have the option of coming forward with crossed arms (or another gesture) to indicate that they would prefer to be sprinkled with ashes, a historic practice.
- No one should feel obliged to impose, or to receive, ashes if they are not comfortable doing so.
- If it is the custom of your parish to wash feet (or hands) at Maundy Thursday liturgies, this practice may resume.
- As with the distribution of holy communion, physical distancing must be maintained as people come forward for the foot-washing.
- Chairs should be adequately spaced out to maintain physical distancing.
- Ideally, each person being washed should bring, or be provided with, their own towel.
- No one should feel obliged to wash feet, or have their feet washed, if they are not comfortable doing so.
- The baptism of multiple candidates using the same consecrated font water is now permitted.
- Physical distancing must be maintained at the font.
- All other baptismal protocols must be maintained.
- Our bishops are now scheduling confirmations again. Please be in touch with your Bishop’s Office to book an episcopal visit, or call Canon Mary Conliffe if you have prepared candidates to bring to the Diocesan Confirmation on April 24 at St. James Cathedral.
May Lent and Holy Week be a time of holiness and renewal, as we anticipate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has won the ultimate triumph over sin, sickness and death itself.