Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Ashes for Ash Wednesday

Today being Ash Wednesday is, of course, the day for the ritual imposition of ashes on the heads of the faithful to mark the beginning of Lent. This year it is going to be a bit different. Social distancing means fewer will feel able, or wish, to attend church. That is regrettable but understandable. In addition the Holy See says the ashes should be sprinkled on the head rather than imposed on the forehead, which will be unusual to most Catholics and Anglo-Catholics in this country.

I came across, or an algorithm brought to my attention, an article about the sacramental custom and the difference in practice between sprinkling and smearing on the forehead. It is from The Pillar and sets out the variations between differ countries as to sprinkling and contact imposition, by hand or by a stamp. It shows that the origins of the various methods are not known and no definitive explanation of the variation in practice appears possible. 

Nota beneThe source of the article is The Pillar which is orthodox Catholic and not to be confused with a journal of the same name published in connection with The Restored Church of God, which is a heterodox group.

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