Ash Wednesday

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Church has been giving guidance to parishes throughout the world on modifying many of our liturgical practices, so as to be proactive in stopping the spread of the virus, and yet still enable us to continue to praise and worship our God.

We are accustomed on Ash Wednesday to receive ashes on our foreheads, marking us with the sign of the cross. This beautiful tradition reminds us to “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” and to “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

On Ash Wednesday this year, our experience of receiving ashes will be a little different.

Due to health and safety concerns concerning the Coronavirus, guidance was set forth from the Vatican to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati regarding the distribution of ashes. St. Max will follow these directives as we celebrate Ash Wednesday together. (To read the guidance sent out from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, click here.)

What can you expect when you come to Mass on Ash Wednesday?
Following the blessing of ashes, the priest will say to the entire congregation, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” It will not be spoken again to each person as they come forward.

Then, those who choose to do so, will be invited to come forward to receive a small amount of ashes sprinkled on the head. This tradition is foreign to those of us in the United States, but is a tradition in other parts of the world, such as Italy and Poland. Last year, as the Coronavirus began to spread, other countries around the world adapted the practice of sprinkling ashes as a way to receive ashes, but without involving the touching of the forehead.

It is important to remember that the wearing of ashes, while customary and laudable, is not an obligation of the faithful. Anyone who is fearful of becoming sick should not come forward. A reminder as well, that Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation.  Even if it were, remember that the dispensation of the obligation to attend Mass is still in effect.

Let us remember that even with all the modifications, changes and updates affecting the way we pray and live our faith, our God remains the same. The Mass at its core remains the reason we are a parish in the first place, to worship Him who loves us, sustains us and pours out His mercy upon us despite our failures and sinfulness. 

All are invited to join us for Mass on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17th. Each Mass will include the distribution of ashes. Mass times are: 6:30 AM, 8:30 AM, Noon and 7:30 PM.

As we approach the holy season of Lent, let us remember to repent, believe in the Gospel, and always strive to see how much our loving Father loves us.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the distribution of ashes, please contact Mary Ella Wielgos, Pastoral Associate for Worship and Sacraments at, 513-777-4322 x109.

Photo of worshippers wearing protective masks receive ashes during Ash Wednesday Mass at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Manila, Philippines, Feb. 26, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Ash Wednesday Mass Times
February 17
6:30 AM
8:30 AM

7:30 PM

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