Ashes for babies & young children

Did your parish give ashes to babies & young children?

If you have any links to official instruction, please post.

I don’t know, but if baptism can be given to infants, and sacramentals such as Holy Water used on them, why not blessed ashes?

I don’t know-----My pastor says that since those under the age of reason cannot sin, they should not get ashes. Any young children would get a blessing (here we go again:D )

The parish where I belonged when my children were little did give ashes (one daughter called them ash trays, and the other called them eyelashes).

Fr David told us that the sacramentary does not specify. I was wondering if anyone ever saw any official instruction.


I went to Catholic school during the 60’s. We went to Mass and Benediction every week. Ash Wednesday was one of those days. I can remember watching the adults and older children receiving the ashes but not the little ones. We did after our first Communion.

Do we not “call the assembly” to include “infants at the breast”? This great time of penance – like that at Nineveh – may include all (or “may not,” I guess, considering your pastor’s opinion :o ).

There is no reason why they should not, they are Baptized which makes them members of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Our parish did but, unless I missed a few, there were only 3 pre-schoolers at Mass last night.

All my kids received ashes, my youngest turned 6 in January. I noticed that infants and toddlers received a blessing instead, but I did not see any pre-schoolers to see what was done for them.

I was very happy to see that only priests and a deacon distributed ashes this year, at least at our 8:00 Mass. I know laity may help if need be, but since we are fortunate enough to have 3 priests and 2 deacons at our Church, the need wasn’t there.

Sadly, I thought it spoke volumes that our pastor distributed the ashes by himself but needed an EMHC to help him with Communion.

I don’t like to see priests sitting while EMHCs distribute the Eucharist, but I’ve seen that before too, so that is why I was pleased to see only priests and a deacon distribute the ashes. Sadly, in our case too, the two other priests left after distributing the ashes, so EMHCs helped the remaining priest and the deacon with Communion. Perhaps the priests had other duties to attend to and could not stay, but it would have been even more heartening if they could have stayed to distribute the Eucharist as well.

The ashes not only represent our need for repentance but our humanity as well. One of the phrases used is “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Babies are human so there is no reason to not inpose the ashes on them. All the children even infants recieved the ashes in our parish yesterday.

Both of my children (ages 1 and 2) received ashes at last night’s mass. All of the young children at mass did.

There is another point. I know I don’t like to distribute Communion after having distributed ashes—it is difficult to properly clean all the ashes from the fingers & nails with just a towel or whatever is available at that time.

Also for whatever reason, people who are fine in receiving Holy Communion from an EMHC, really complain if they do not receive ashes from a priest. Perhaps because it is only once a year. (and maybe the only time some of them are there)


In fact, that it is what the first reading for the Mass on Ash Wednesday noted, to paraphrase: let the nurses bring the children at the breast.

Incidentally, let’s not forget that even the king of Nineveh ordered the beasts and animals to be covered in ashes and sackcloth and cry out to the Lord for mercy. So, if the animals and beasts wore ashes, then certainly babies and small children can.

Yesterday, I imparted the ashes to some small children while our parochial vicar did so with babies who were in his line.

What I think that we might be forgetting is that although ashes are a powerful symbol of repentance, they also remind us our mortality. The traditional formula is “remember, man, you are dust and to dust you shall return”, just about the same words that God spoke to Adam as a result of the Fall. Inasmuch as a baby and a small child cannot sin, they are still mortal.

All of us are formed from the humus of the ground, as was Adam. Thus, eventually, our bodies will turn to dust, the penalty of Original Sin.


I only distributed at the hospital, and there were no cildren there. One man in the ER waiting room was holding a baby, but I only put my hand on her head, and said “God bless you”

Since my Pastor does not want babies and young children to receive ashes, I will respect his instructions.

Our PV did say that there is some reference to “know right from wrong”.


I agree with joshua, we had a similar thread like this the other day. Again, ashes are a Sacramental, not a Sacrament. Anyone, including non Catholics and kids can receive. Also took my kids to receive ashes when they were quite small…

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