Who can get ashes on Ash Wednesday?

A few short questions:

  1. Can non-Catholics receive ashes?

2a) Does a Catholic need to participate in Mass to receive ashes?

2b) if you are working, can you sneak out to the local church during mass and get ashes and leave because you have to be at work and can’t stay for the Mass?

  1. is there any docterine on this subject?

Anyone may receive ashes. Anyone. Babies, non-Catholics, non-baptized, anyone. Ashes are a sacramental; not a sacrament.

If the best you can do is run in and get ashes and get out because of work, there is no sin in that.

This is a bit troublesome, though, because one has to ask why you desire the ashes, then. This day is not a Holy Day of Obligation, and one is not obliged to obtain ashes (to the best of my knowledge). Therefore, what is your want to receive ashes but not the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood?

If it is for the appearance, than today’s Gospel reading about praying/almsgiving/fasting so that others may see rings out quite true.

If you cannot leave work, is there another time that would be possible to attend? I don’t know where you live, but just a single Church by me has mass at 7, 8, 9, Noon, 530, and 7. I understand this could be rare for a parish near you on a day like this, but if you are truly unable to attend the full mass due to work, I still don’t see why you would desire going only for the ashes.

Like was said previously, I guess there is nothing specifically against it (although, I’m not sure what the rules are once you arrive at Mass), but I would question your reasonings for such actions.

I the posting of this in the Traditional Forum to be interesting, so let me entertain my curiosity a bit. Is the rule for reception different in a TLM, or has the method or rule for reception changed?

The OP’s question clearly indicated work schedule issues. I would not infer anything different from that regarding motive.

I understand that, but if there is no obligation to fulfill, why the desire to leave work for only the ashes? That is the point I was getting at. I had no intention of offending nor accusing, but I did want to draw light to the fact that no obligation is requiring ashes, so why the desire for ashes if the OP knows he/she will not attend the full mass?

Thanks for your answers. Reason I asked about if you could get them and leave is because I myself love to wear ashes because they can bring up conversation, and I love preaching by action, then by words.

Thankfully I was able to get out of work for 40 minutes to make it to Mass, but in the past years I have not had time and never got ashes, so it just sparked a question in my head.

Also, before i knew i was going to get time to go to Mass, i mentioned to a coworker that i woundered if i could run to the Chruch and get ashes and get back to work. their response was i could not, that i had to attend the full Mass. I replied with there is nothing written stating that, that the ashes weren’t a sacramental. the intent of my question was not to skip out on Mass, but I was curious because i didn’t think i could get there. but thank God I did. Mass is awesome.

Thanks again answers! God bless! Happy Lent!

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Good for you. I think you might have made a typo, there. Ashes are a sacramental. They are not a sacrament. Just wanted to clarify.


Glad you were able to attend Mass!


I’ve only ever seen ashes in the context of mass. I’ve never seen a service designed to distribute ashes. What are these mass-less ash services that people are mentioning on the boards? What happens there? What are they like? Who officiates? Where can they be held? Curiosity is killing this cat. :cool:

(My parish had 6 *masses *today. They distribute ashes at mass only.)

Note: I mean for Latin rite Catholics. I know Protestants have Ash Wednesday services. I don’t mean that.

As far as I know you may recieve ashes and not go to Mass ( it’s better to go to Mass) but at least if you don’t have enough time, time a moment to pray and reflect of the meaning of “Ash Wednesday” & the beginning of Lenten season.

—funny how I was walking in NYC and everyone was looking at my forehead, some people asked what it’s all about, some people laughed, some people just stared, some asked where they can get ashes, some say “oh it’s Ash Wednesday” then I felt good that I reminded people to go t church…just funny…

I’ve been to 2 churches today ( i know, too much ? lol But I didnt have work today and I passed by the churches so I dropped by, its in NYC ) and the ashes are distributed in the lower church (both churches) and the Mass was held in the upper church.

Some people just drop by, reflect and said some prayer and get the ashes…it went on the whole day from 7am-6pm just distributing ashes …while there are also 6 masses going on in the upper church, so people had a choice, if they had time they went to Mass, those who need to get back to work just took a moment to pray.

Thanks for answering. :slight_smile: I had no idea it was a continuous distribution all day. Always interesting to find out something new.

You are blessed to have so many churches nearby, especially if they are kept unlocked so you can go in to pray before the Blessed Sacrament whenever you want.

I have one service nearby tonight that I can go to, so I also repeat that some are blessed to have multiple places to go to. I came to this forum as I also had that question about who can receive ashes - as my children have not been baptized but I wanted to bring them to the service with me. I was concerned about the logistics if I was the only one allowed to get the ashes and would I have to leave the kids sitting by themselves, it just gets awkward.
My kids will be baptized on Easter Sunday… great happiness!
Thanks for clarifying.

That’s the problem when one reduces attending Mass to the idea of “obligation”.

Before Vatican II and still in a lot of places ashes were/are distributed OUTSIDE of Mass.

I still don’t understand this idea that one must receive communion at every Mass they attend, even multiple times in one day. When I was young we were encouraged to receive communion once every 6 weeks or so. We still heard Mass every week or even daily but we received only once every 6 weeks or so.

My concern was that the poster was worried about the appearance of having ashes as opposed to the sacrifice of the Mass.

Also, I have no idea why you would not receive communion daily or weekly. So long as your conscience was clear of mortal sin, and you hadn’t previously received that day (or whatever the specifics are for receiving multiple times daily), I would think one would be encouraged to receive as frequently as possible.

“What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what is given to us in time, be our healing for eternity. May Your Body, O Lord, which I have eaten, and Your Blood which I have drunk, cleave to my very soul, and grant that no trace of sin be found in me, whom these pure and holy mysteries have renewed.”

Grace is received by attending Mass, but there is much more grace in receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ in the Eucharist.

Being this is the Traditional forum, I’d like to ask…from a traditional viewpoint…why would you think it better to receive daily (new OF practice) rather then the older practice of a less frequent reception of the sacrament(practice of the pre-Vatican II church)?

It bothers me all this mixing and matching…if one is going to attend the traditional Mass shouldn’t one also follow the traditional practices and discipline that go along with that? ( fasting, holy days, ect.)?


It is about time I updated my status - my wife (non-Catholic) attends mass with me, but going from Protestant services to the Latin mass was a little much - we still go for Midnight Mass at Christmas, but now attend the Novus Ordo.

However, in the time that I did attend Latin Mass, with very traditional Catholics (Christendom College alums, mostly) they always received the Eucharist at Mass. I cannot explain the reasoning behind infrequent reception prior to Vatican II, but all Catholics I know, especially traditional Catholics, stress the importance of regular and frequent receipt of the Eucharist.

I remember in college, I attended Mass with my brother (Christendom alum who only attends the TLM) a couple of weeks in a row, but did not receive because I was not in a state of grace. I still made sure to attend on Sundays, but my brother stressed the importance of receiving the Eucharist beyond just participating in the Mass. I guess this has always stuck with me…

Receiving daily may have become more common post VII but it’s not an OF practice :slight_smile: