Can a religious sister do Ash Wednesday Liturgy of the Word?


#1

Can a religious sister do Ash Wednesday Liturgy of the Word?

There is no absence of priests since there will be a Mass after it and there were Masses before and there are 3 priests in residence and 2 deacons.

It was basically like the liturgy of the word of an actual Mass but the nun did everything like read the Gospel, say the homily and bless the ashes.


#2

:shrug:

:shrug:
Got me.


#3

It sounds wrong to me. Women are not allowed to preach in church, read the Gospel, etc. I have never heard of people other than priests blessing things. Exception, parents blessing children.


#4

Only a deacon, priest, or bishop may bless the ashes. That doesn’t mean they can’t be blessed beforehand but not during the service without an ordained minister. In addition if a priest or deacon is available to lead a service or some sort of liturgical event then they should be the ones doing it. A layperson can however lead a “Service of Ashes” as long as the ashes were blessed before the service. A layperson can read the gospel(and of course readings) at a communion/liturgical service; however, they may not give a homily unless it has been pre-prepared by the pastor.


#5

No.

I wanted to be sure on the answer, so I checked.

The Book of Blessings, #1659 says that only a priest or deacon can conduct this service—but that he may be assisted by laypersons in the actual distribution of the ashes.

Since a sister is not a priest or deacon, she cannot bless the ashes.


#6

That was my first thought. That’s why I checked to be sure. The rite clearly states that only a priest or deacon can conduct the service.

There is provision for a layperson to take ashes to the sick (and use a modified form of the rite), but this is limited only to taking them to the sick.


#7

[quote=Zooman77]Only a deacon, priest, or bishop may bless the ashes. That doesn’t mean they can’t be blessed beforehand but not during the service without an ordained minister. In addition if a priest or deacon is available to lead a service or some sort of liturgical event then they should be the ones doing it. A layperson can however lead a “Service of Ashes” as long as the ashes were blessed before the service. A layperson can read the gospel(and of course readings) at a communion/liturgical service; however, they may not give a homily unless it has been pre-prepared by the pastor.
[/quote]

[quote=FrDavid96]That was my first thought. That’s why I checked to be sure. The rite clearly states that only a priest or deacon can conduct the service.

There is provision for a layperson to take ashes to the sick (and use a modified form of the rite), but this is limited only to taking them to the sick.
[/quote]

Thanks Father for checking into that and making that correction! I knew that a layperson could take ashes to the sick and use a rite(which can be abbreviated as needed) from the Book of Blessings but I assumed that a Service of Ashes could also be done by a layperson. The only reason I assumed this is because I knew a layperson can lead a “Communion Service” and so I figured that a Service of Ashes was inferior in a liturgical sense and therefore “One who can do greater, can do lesser.”


#8

After her homily, she said this from the pulpit:

We will now bless the ashes.

Dear friends, let us humbly ask God our Father that he be pleased to bless the abundance of His grace these ashes, which we will put on our heads in penitence.

O God, who desire not the death of sinners, but their conversion, mercifully hear our prayers and in your kindness be pleased to bless these ashes, which we intend to receive upon our heads, that we, who acknowledge we are but ashes and shall return to dust, may, through a steadfast observance of Lent, gain pardon for sins and newness of life after the likeness of your Risen Son. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

Then she walked over to the bowl of ashes in front of the altar and sprinkled it with holy water.


#9

I also thought it was possible. I actually went to the book so that I could quote it rather than just say that it was permitted. I was a bit surprised. Aside from the blessing part, I couldn’t think of any reason why a layperson could not do it. I am thinking about it now—but it would just be my ramblings if I were to write more.

I see where you’re going at the end of your post. There are actually 2 reasons why that wouldn’t apply. One is that a layperson cannot actually conduct a Communion service—it can only be done as an extra-ordinary function, so permission to do a Communion service is limited to that alone, and nothing more beyond that. The other is that the principle applies when we’re talking about things that are parts of a whole (at least in the context of Catholic liturgical practice). So, if a layperson (strictly extra-ordinary) can conduct a Communion service, then that same person can do all the lesser parts that constitute the whole; such as lead the penitential rite or read the epistle. On the other hand, as a priest I can consecrate the Eucharist, but I cannot bless a new tower bell, since that’s reserved to the bishop. Even though the Eucharist is greater than the bell, I still cannot do it.


#10

Bonus points for that. I haven’t heard that since seminary.:smiley:


#11

This happened at my service too only it wasn’t a proper Mass (there was a Mass that would have began about a hour later but I couldn’t attend), Just the Liturgy of the word an distribution of that ashes. Sister basically conducted everything without the priest present however, it’s very likely that the ashes were blessed by the priest earlier that day, I just personally didn’t see it.
Wonderfully informative post… :thumbsup:


#12

Ft David does that mean lay people should not distribute ashes during the Mass?


#13

It sounds to me like the instruction is saying that if a priest or deacon is at all available to lead the service, then they should be the ones to do it. It doesn’t say that only a priest or deacon can lead the service. However, the OP’s description of the Sister blessing the ashes is of concern.


#14

No. Not as such.

If it’s at Mass, the priest must be the one to lead the service. After all, the fact that Mass is happening means that there’s no question that the priest is there and available. If there’s a necessity, the priest may be assisted by laypersons to distribute the ashes. So a layperson cannot preside at the service during Mass, but may help the priest.


#15

Actually, the Book of Blessings #1659 does say that only a priest or deacon can lead the service. As I posted earlier, I also thought that it could be done by a layperson, but after checking the ritual, it turns out that it cannot be done this way. The only exception is when already blessed ashes are taken to the sick.


#16

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