Ash Wednesday Mass, only ashes then leave?


For Ash Wednesday, my parish is having a noon mass and a 7 o’clock mass. I have to be back at school by 12:30, would it be okay for me to receive the ashes then go back to school? I’m also going to the 7 pm mass, but I kind of want to be a witness and have people ask questions (they usually do) so I can explain my faith to them. I live in the middle of a place where atheists and protestants are in similar numbers, so I like using times like this to spread the Gospel.


The distribution of ashes comes at the end of mass so if mass starts at 12 and you have to be somewhere at 12:30 it seems unlikely you will be there for distribution of ashes.


Around here, distribution of ashes is at the homily; what you describe, OP, happens all the time.


Yes it would be OK if it were not for your intention which is a little bit of a concern.

Yes, giving witness to your faith is 4th on the list as a way of doing penance in Lent.
However if that is going to be done in the manner you describe I suggest a better penance might be to go to midday mass and wipe the marks from your forehead as an exercise in humility.
Or simply go in the evening.


It’s not that I want to call attention to myself for pride’s sake, it’s that I want people to ask why I wear the ashes, and then I can explain my faith to them. I’ve had people ask about the miraculous medals I wear, and “what’s that funny tag sticking out of your shirt?” (in reference to my scapular), and I explain what and why, and try to help them see Catholicism in a new light, rather than bias they’ve heard from their pastor or hear-say (I live in the Bible Belt, mostly Protestants or atheists round here)


Check with your parish…I know mine is having a deacon present throughout the day to distribute ashes apart from mass (7am til 9am mass, 10 am til noon mass, and 1pm til 7pm mass).


I basically asked this question myself last year. If you need to leave before the Eucharist, leave. (Just make sure to be quiet and unobtrusive when doing so. So maybe sit on the aisle in the back.)

When I went last year it was morning Mass and they had no singers so that ended up speeding things up and I could stay the whole Mass. Maybe the Mass you go to will be short too.


Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of Obligation (although I certainly encourage Catholics to attend Mass anyway).

Since you have no obligation to attend the entire Mass, neither do you have an obligation to attend any part of the Mass. So there’s nothing objectively wrong with leaving after you receive ashes.

I don’t want to go so far as to encourage leaving in the middle of Mass. Just because we’re not obligated to do something does not mean that we are entirely free to do something else. If someone begins participating in Mass, then that person really should stay for the entire Mass, to the final blessing. That’s why I’ll never encourage anyone to leave Mass early (and neither would I fault anyone who truly needs to leave early, like someone who becomes ill in the middle of Mass).


They are your own words.


A church within driving distance is having a morning Mass and an evening Mass. Ashes only will be distributed at noon by the Pastor.
(I can’t remember if a lay person also). A long line forms at that time. I have taken advantage of this the past few years.


We always have a Prayer Service at noon on Ash Wednesday at our parish I usually go to that and receive my ashes. As each person receives their ashes, they leave.

The last few years tho, dr appts at the hospital have occurred on Ash Wednesday. There are Masses every 3 hrs although Father will distribute ashes any time during the day. Mama and I only had time to receive our ashes last year. So we didn’t get to go to any of the Masses.

Since becoming my mother’s caregiver, I’ve learned to be grateful for these little graces and don’t get upset if I can’t stay for Mass even though I love Mass so much.


A lot of people receive ashes and then leave, folks who have to work for a living and are stopping by on their lunch hour. That’s fine, a long time tradition particularly in churches downtown or near large office complexes. But if you’re already committed to going to mass in the evening, I don’t see the point.


Folks, let’s remember that if you are there attending Mass, then you are there attending Mass. You should not leave Mass early, ever!! (well, OK, only for a life and death situation but how many of those have you encountered in your life?)

The whole point is going to Mass, not just to get smeared with ashes. It’s a nice reminder of our status in this world, only creatures, and yes, it’s a conversation starter, but the Mass is the holy sacrifice of our Lord! If you want the ashes only, then ask if a deacon or priest can put the ashes on you outside of Mass.


Is it possible for you to make a pre-arrangement with your school notifying them that you may be late due to religious grounds and attending a religious service?


On Ash Wednesday, my parish of about 6000 families have quite a schedule. We have a 7:30am, Noon, and 7pm Mass. And liturgies at 10:30am and 2pm. And friars make themselves available throughout the day.

(Tongue in Check)…When something is being given away, Catholics just seem to come out of the woodwork!


I live in the south also and what you state is also one of the reasons I will be attending the early Mass.:+1:


That’s pretty much true, Palm Sunday is another very high attendance day because of the free palms. Free ashes gets them in on Ash Wednesday.


I hate to bring you down, American Rose. But I believe you know you are bringing attention to yourself and that you want that attention. I do not believe you are doing it for His Glory. (Read your posts again.) You know this because you said, “I want people to ask why I wear the ashes,” and that you “have had people ask about the miraculous medals I wear, and “what’s that funny tag sticking out of your shirt?” (in reference to my scapular)…”

I live in the Bible Belt as well. And I can assure you that Protestants know about Ash Wednesday even if they’ve never met a Catholic personally. When I receive my ashes on Ash Wednesday, I am reminded that I am a sinner who must repent of my sins and do penance. IF someone happens to question me about my ashes, I’m happy to oblige. But I don’t wear them or my medals or scapular for the attention.

Please receive your ashes each Ash Wednesday for the right reason and keep your heart and mind focused on Him.


Do you really need to have an ashes on your forehead to remind yourself that you are sinful and that you must do penance? in this case it is not necessary to take ashes at all, because at each mass by the penitentiary introductory rite, we are already reminded that we are sinners, and in addition the ash is on our forehead so we can not see it ourselves!
So I think that the ash we put on our forehead is to give a message to others, it is not for ourselves …


The ashes are a reminder during this most poignant time of year. That doesn’t mean I don’t know I’m a sinner the rest of the year.

If you don’t wish to receive ashes on your forehead each year on Ash Wednesday, that is entirely up to you. The ashes help me remain humble and remind me where I come from and where my earthly remains will return when I am gone. “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.” - Gen 3:19

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