EWTN Catholic Q&A
Ashes to go
Question from Joe on 02-25-2014:

In a parish bulletin, I noticed the Ash Wednesday schedule. Mass times and Liturgy of the Word, during both ashes will be distributed. "During non-service times, ashes are distributed in the narthex. Distribution ends 15 minutes before each liturgy." Seems odd to me. What say you?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 02-26-2014:


It's not uncommon. In a recent weekly bulletin from an FSSP parish in my diocese, where all Catholic rituals are done according to the pre-Vatican II rites of the Latin Catholic church, there was an announcement that blessed ashes would be available in the office all day.

Blessed ashes are a sacramental, and so they do not have to be distributed during a liturgy. Some parishes restrict the distribution times to the Ash Wednesday liturgies to discourage the practice of "receiving and leaving," but whether or not to do so is a matter for the pastor's prudential judgment.

And, of course, for those who are homebound or otherwise unable to attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, many times the blessed ashes are brought to them at home.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers