Mask Mandate to Be Lifted for Schoolchildren in March
Bulletin February 20, 2022

Poll: Ashes on the Forehead or Sprinkled on the Head?

The most ancient use of ashes in prayer was as a a sign of lamentation and grief, often accompanied by the wearing of sackcloth. The ashes were almost wallowed in and sprinkled, especially on and about the head.
Later the use of ashes developed as a sign of sorrow and penance, especially for those who had committed publicly notorious sins and were enrolled in the Order of Penitents. The penitential imposition ashes on Ash Wednesday stems from this tradition..
Perhaps during the Protestant Reformation, the practice of imposing the ashes on the forehead of Catholics developed as a way of distinguishing Catholics and as a particular public witness of the faith.
During the pandemic, recourse to the ancient practice of sprinkling ashes on the head was made by many dioceses to avoid contagion with touch. One obvious difference is that the imposition of ashes on the forehead is a publicly visible sign, while the scattering of ashes on the top of the head is invisible.
We mostly avoided sprinkling because to avoid surprising people with ash in their hair and used cotton applicators last year.
What do you think, sprinkled on the head or imposed on the forehead?


Ash Wednesday Poll