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Catholic churches now collecting palm fronds for Ash Wednesday

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By Christina Hermoso

With only 10 days to go before the start of the season of Lent, Roman Catholic churches in different parts of the country have started collecting old palm fronds (palaspas) from last year’s Palm Sunday celebration in preparation for next week’s solemn observance of Ash Wednesday on February 26.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of the 40-day Lenten season.

Several churches started accepting palm fronds since early February and have collected dozens of the blessed palm leaves, a parish official said.

The faithful have until February 25 to bring last year’s “palaspas” to their local parish office. Some Catholic schools have also started to collect palm fronds from students and parents.

More popularly known as “palaspas,” the palm fronds are traditionally displayed at altars in home or placed on doors and window sills by the faithful in the belief that “the right hand of God will bless and protect those who dwell in the house from all adversities.”

The burning of palms is traditionally done in churches Tuesday afternoon. Four ancient prayers are recited during the burning of the ashes, which are sprinkled with Holy Water and fumigated with incense. The blessed ashes mixed with a little oil are used to mark the sign of the cross on the foreheads of churchgoers on Ash Wednesday with the reminder that “Thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return” and to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

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