[quote=pianistclare]Yes, and isn’t it interesting that many Catholics will cancel everything to get to church (even our protestant brethren will come to Ashes) on Ash Wednesday, because of some perception that they are “getting something magic” as opposed to coming regularly to Mass to receive Christ in the Eucharist?
We usually have at least 8 people distributing ashes…and we’re a tiny parish…and the line of people is out the door.
Where are the hundreds on Sundays?
My priest said it’s the only Mass where people think we give away something.
They believe that other Masses require the attendees to give something.
Christmas ,Easter, and Ash Wednesday seem to be the three days that the Church is packed with people. It’s always a mostly bitter but somewhat sweet feeling to see all these people. On one hand I am happy that all of these people are at Mass, but I know that the following Sunday will be back down to it’s normal attendance.
As for the OP’s questions:
Yes, ashes can be imposed outside of a Church in the case of sick, elderly, or otherwise infirm people who cannot make it to Church. This may be done by a priest, deacon, or lay minister if the lay minister is using already blessed ashes. Only a priest or deacon can bless ashes.
Ashes are imposed either during a Mass or a Liturgy. Even when giving ashes to the sick outside of a Church a liturgy/rite is followed from the Book of Blessings regardless of whether it is a priest, deacon, or lay minister.
No, they are not supposed to be imposed on another day.
As to whether these things happen in practice, I have never seen any of these rules broken, at least not around here.