I have a question: Are there any other religions besides Catholic that receive ashes on Ash Wednesday or are we the only ones to do so?
Before I converted to the Catholic faith, I was a member of the Episcopal Church. We received ashes at church on Ash Wednesday. I think Lutherans do, but I don’t know about any other faiths.
Aside from Episcopalians and Lutherans, I believe that some other mainline Protestant churches also use ashes, and possibly some Evangelicals may be now using them. Being from the Pacific Northwest, where the standard reaction on Ash Wednesday is “dude, there’s something on your forehead!,” I was surprised during a visit to Washington, DC, where almost half the crowd on the Metro and in the streets had ashes on their heads. In fact, the local news station not only made mention of it the night before, but gave fasting regulations for Catholics and some Protestant churches. What a culture shock!
I know in our midwestern diocese, more people attend the Ash Wednesday services than those who come on Christmas. I can’t believe it! And Ash Wednesday is not even a Holy Day of Obligation like Christmas is.
Many of the Protestants now do this. We did it in the Methodist Church and in the Presbyterian (USA) church.
I thought so. DH was raised Baptist and the concept of receiving ashes is foreign to him. He thought it was just a Catholic thing. I’m going to have to tell him about other denominations that do this. I think the UCC does this, too.
That’s kind of neat. When I was growing up, I was surrounded by a lot of Catholics so the sight of ashes on one’s forehead was a common sight. I think the only comments people made about them was when someone would have an unusually large amount of ashes on their forehead compared to everyone else.
It’s very common down here in mainly Catholic south Louisiana. TV covers Ash Wednesday and office workers in both downtown New Orleans and Baton Rouge head to church during lunch hour.
Which is precisely why my parish priest has an “extra” collection on ash wed.
In my neighbourhood, a United Church of Christ parish and a Methodist parish have a joint Ash Wednesday service every year. They receive ashes at the service. My Lutheran family and friends also receive ashes at their Ash Wednesday service.
About 3 years ago at my parish, half of the congregation marched down the aisles for the ashes and then marched right out the doors of the church. They were so clueless that they did not even understand that ashes are just a sacramental, and they skipped the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
To be fair, a lot of people want to receive ashes, but have silly little activities in their lives, such as work or husbands left with small children. And some of them may not have been Catholic, and thus not entitled to receive Holy Communion.
St. Peter’s in Chicago’s Loop gives ashes all day long, and into the evening, to accomodate downtown workers. Anybody can receive ashes, not just Catholics. Our parish has somebody on standby during the day to distribute ashes, as well as in the evening.
This was a 7:00 p.m. Mass, and entire families walked out after getting ashes. The Protestant Churches in my neighbourhood had services too, so I doubt if these people were non-Catholic. If they were not properly disposed to receive Holy Communion, they could have made a spiritual Communion.
My pastor did mention this the following year on Ash Wednesday. Nobody walked out after receiving ashes after he told the congregation.
Do you know if non Catholics can receive ashes at all Catholic churches?
I sometimes see people receive Communion then walk right back up the aisle and out the door. I also see a lot of people leave before the priest exits the church.
Yes, it is possible. Ashes are a sacramental, not a Sacrament. It would be no different than receiving a blessing. The only thing that non-Catholics cannot do at Mass is receive Holy Communion.
Unfortunately, there will always be those who are rude or irreverant. Thankfully, at my parish this is not as bad as what happened on that Ash Wednesday, when at least 50 people walked out after receiving ashes.
I really don’t get why people act that way but I assume it’s a reflection of society as a whole. Manners went out the window a long time ago.
I have a Protestant friend who is learning about Catholicism, and who may one day convert. At this point she attends mass almost weekly (as well as her Pentecostal church). Anyway - I told her that since the ashes on Wednesday are a sacramental as opposed to a sacrament, I didn’t think there was any rule against non-Catholics recieving them. She says it would be scary to begin with (during mass she hides in the back, and lives in fear that she’ll be found out and thrown in a dungeon or something) and wouldn’t do it unless she’s sure that it’s okay. So, people more informed than me: is it?
Are you making allowances for the fact that with vigils and so on there are usually a couple more services available TO attend on Christmas? :hmmm: