Ash Wednesday Eucharistic Service


I attended Ash Wednesday services this evening. Our Deacon lead the service. Our priest is pastor of two parishes and I’m guessing was at the other parish tonight. Can someone please help me understand whether it is appropriate for the Deacon to involve his daughter as the second person in the service distributing Ashes and his wife and the second person assisting him with distribution of the Holy Eucharist. We also had a fish and chips dinner immediately preceding the service and the one hour, I thought mandatory fast/abstinence (?) was not observed and rather glibly I though, excused. I want to be faithful and not be riled up, but I am, and I’m not sure why. Please correct me and help me to better understand what happened tonight. I’m very discouraged by the changes I see in the Church locally and in society in general. I feel very confused. Thank you.


Yes, the Ashes are a Sacramental, like Holy Water. So the blessing is inherent to the sacramental, not the person administering it.

Imagine that if, instead of having a Holy Water font by each door to the Church that you use to administer the Sacramental to yourself, there was a minister there administering the Holy Water. It would still remain the Holy Water itself that is efficacious, NOT the minister.


If his wife & daughter are both EMHC, their participation would be appropriate.


There doesn’t seem to be a problem with the deacon’s daughter distributing ashes. Nor with his wife assisting with Communion–I would bet she is an EMHC.
What time did the consumption of food end? And what time was Communion distributed? (not the time the service began).


There is the whole question of whether to have a Celebration of the Eucharist in the Absence of a Priest. The answer is that it depends on your diocese and the norms established by your ordinary. Redemptionis Sacramentum #166 says the following:

[quote=“Redemptionis Sacramentum”][166.] Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care.

Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, and ashes may be imposed outside of Mass, so there is no need to have anything but a blessing of the ashes and some prayers around them. Redemptionis Sacramentum #165 says it is not always necessary to distribute Holy Communion in these celebrations.

The case may be that your diocese has its particular law available on its website for you to check. Or you may have to call the office of worship to find out. You will be in my prayers.


In the Chicago Archdiocese, the only way to receive communion today is during mass. You can also receive ashes during the mass.

There are prayer services for the distribution of ashes only, but for today, communion was not allowed in this situation.

That came from a priest veteran of 41 years in the Archdiocese. It may vary in other dioceses.


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