The Armchair Liturgist: Distributors of Ashes

The Big Day is only a week away. My schedulers leave our four Ash Wednesday Masses blank, so the more enthusiastic liturgical ministers get duty, as I post on Facebook, send emails, and they ask me at Mass.

One duty not on the ordinary Sunday line-up are the people who distribute ashes. Sit in the appropriately-colored chair and render a judgment among many options:

  • Let Communion ministers do double duty that day.
  • Let parish leaders distribute: staff and committee people.
  • Clergy only, if you are so staffed.

On that last point, I wonder about mixed communities of priests and religious. Would ashes ever be a task for a lay religious to impose on a priest?

Consider the recruiting and brief orientation in a medium-sized or larger parish. With Wednesday being a working day, how would you manage the brief instruction needed? Something in advance. Is an e-mail enough.

At the student center, we have a system. But I’m interested in other people’s faith communities.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Distributors of Ashes

  1. Liam says:

    Since I very rarely attend services on Ash Wednesday*, I don’t know how much variation is manifest on the ground locally.

    * While my upbringing was super-serious highbrow Catholic, my parents made clear it was not a holyday of obligation, and the point of the day was not about getting ashes, so they let us go to services but never placed any pressure on us to go. My standard Lenten greeting card greeting for Ash Wednesday for the past 2 decades or more is: Happy Lent – may your ashes be dark, and your Lent long.

  2. Mary says:

    “with people working” I’d say that most have very little chance to get near a service. In my city, the city centre churches which I live near have ‘em in the daytime only, and the industrial estates where thousands of people work don’t have churches. And it’s hardly a big-enough day to justify annual leave.

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