Ash Wednesday


This will be my first year of receiving ashes on my forehead. Well, have there been any cases of an allergic reaction? I have SUPER sensitive skin and I’m allergic to almost anything outside that is green. Not deathly, no anaphylaxis or anything. I am willing to participate this time, but what happens if I do have an allergic reaction? HELP! :slight_smile:


The green stuff has been burned. This means that the oils and various other allergens have been pretty thoroughly combusted. All that's left is carbon, which is a rather inert substance. I think the odds of any reaction are minimal.


ok great! Thank you!! I have been so worried about this. haha.


Buy a tube of (over the counter) hydrocortisone cream ahead of time; and if you get a rash or itching from the ashes first wash them off then apply the cream. Get if from your local supermarket or Walmart instead of a pharmacy, it’ll be a lot cheaper.:thumbsup:


Topical diphenhydramine (benadryl) can also be used - you can even rub a little on your forehead before the service to decrease the chances of a reaction. It’s an anti-histamine, so it directly suppresses the reaction, whereas hydrocortisone treats the symptoms. They can be used together, if it gets really bad.


I doubt you'll have a reaction, but do as the others suggested if you're very concerned--or don't have them put on your forehead at all; it's not an obligation.


This is a good idea, like taking Advil before you a start digging in the garden! Also, it’s true you can go wash them off right away if you need to. usually we leave them on until whatever is a normal wash time, but it’s not required.


If this is your first time, you’re really going to like it.


And to repest what was said earlier : it is not obligatory to receive them. In fact, it is not obligatory to even go to the service.

I do have one suggestion, though. I don’t know how approachable your sacristan is, but why not see if you can try a patch test ahead of time? The ashes will have been delivered by now.


In my lifetime of being Catholic (minus the fifteen years I was away before reverting :whistle:) I have never heard of anyone having an allergic reaction to ashes. My skin is very sensitive as well, to the point that I can’t use any skin care or laundry products with scent, color or preservatives, must wear gloves with all household cleaners, avoid clothing made out of certain fabrics, etc. and I’ve never had a reaction.

I am the principal sacristan at one of my parish’s three churches, and if someone came to me with such a request I would gladly let them try it out. Of course I can’t speak for every sacristan out there, but I imagine most of them are much nicer than I am so if I would do it…

That said, our ashes are not in yet. :o

Oh yeah. :cool:


Kendra, it ain’t the Ash Wednesday Mass that will make you sick. It is the partying on Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras the day before that will!


Just a different kind of sick. hahaha.

Sunday I will bring this up during my RCIA class and see if they will let me test it out. I already have this random rash on my face that I am going to the doctor tomorrow for…I think that has freaked me out. LOL.


What is a sacristan? I’ve only been to ash wednesday once. BTW I’ve seen people with the ashes on their forehead. After I received this I went to the restroom and wiped them off? Is this ok?


A sacristan is somebody (can be male or female) who is usually a volunteer, who undertakes to get the Mass things ready, keep them clean, order new altar-breads and candles etc. It comes from the word ‘‘Sacristy’ which is the name for the room where all the vestments (priests’ clothes used for Mass), altar-breads etc. are kept.

Yes, it’s quite all right to wipe the ashes off at some point. Personally,I feel it’s more in keeping with the Gospel usually read that day to do so.
I think the custom of keeping them on all day comes from the time when everyone in the village wouild be Catholic, so you would be reminding each other what the day was by seeing each other’s ashes, and as everyone was wearing them, there was no danger of coming over as holier-than-thou. Today, when receiving ashes is the exception among society at large, keeping them on might cause scandal and accusations of hypocrisy, given the Gospel reading.


The short answer: the sacristan is the person who prepares liturgical articles for Mass. This includes arranging the lectionary; laying out vestments, liturgical vessels and Mass linen; filling cruets with water and wine; and so forth. To my knowledge, all sacristans perform the tasks I’ve cited (some also prepare the missal; I do not). From there, duties can vary from parish to parish and depend upon how senior the sacristan is. For example, as principal sacristan, meaning there is no other sacristan “above” me, I am also responsible for managing the supply of consumables (hosts, incense, etc.) as well as maintaining the vestments.

Well, you’re certainly not meant to keep the ashes on your forehead forever :wink: I hope you at least waited until after Mass, though.


Nah. I’m Catholic, I get ashes on Ash Wednesday, that is what I do. I wear them all day and consider it a witness. If they think I’m a hypocrite, that is their problem, not mine. I am not kowtowing to others to be politically correct. and inoffensive. We do enough of that in the Church. My ashes are a silent reminder of Jesus Christ and what He did for mankind. I am not hiding my lamp under a bushel on Ash Wednesday. Ashes on Ash Wednesday are never a scandal. Never.

It is [edited] a lot better than taking His name in vain, which is what most people have no problem with., and which I hear every single day. Now THAT is a scandal.:mad:

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