I received my ashes from a woman and I am confused

Hello everyone,
Since there was no consacration, it is ok that someone else than a priest presides the rite.
It was no mass.
But from the vestments she used, she looked like a deacon, just the stole was inside out, may I say. If you like the two ends were on her back, not in front of her, and the part which should be on the shoulders and neck were on the side of her throat, resting on her chest and the stole itself retained on the 2 shoulders.

Why and when can a woman wear the stole? Does it need any permission from the bishop, or someone else? Could she be a noun?

Thank you

I don’t know if there are any special rules in Austria but in the United States it is possible for a lay person to lead a pray service where ashes are distributed. And lay persons may help distribute ashes at Mass even when there are already a priest and deacon present.

As for what the woman was wearing, do you actually mean a stole or do you mean an alb?

An alb is a white robe that may be worn by any baptized person (or at least by one who is acting in a liturgical role.)

A stole is kind of like a scarf. A priest’s stole goes around his neck and the two ends hang down in front. A deacon’s stole goes over one shoulder and is gathered at his side.

I believe there may be some albs that have a stole sewn directly onto them. Maybe this woman was wearing one of them and she turned it inside out and backwards to try and make it look like a plain white alb.

For the USA, when the practice of marking the baptized with ashes is done there are different parts depending on who presides.

When a priest or deacon presides, he extends his hands and greets the people, saying:

*]The grace, the mercy, and the peace of God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior be with you.
*]The people reply: And with your spirit.

When a lay minister presides, the following greeting is used:

*]Praised be the God of grace, mercy, and peace. Blessed be God for ever.
*]R. Blessed be God for ever.

Book of Blessings: Blessing and Distribution of Ashes has:

1659 This rite may be celebrated by a priest or deacon who may be assisted by lay ministers in the distribution of the ashes. The blessing of the ashes, however, is reserved to a priest or deacon.

She wore the alb, and the stole in the opposite way a priest would. The alb had two pieces of tissue which would help the stole not to fall. The stole itaself was purple. And SHE blessed the ashes. I found that wrong, to tell the truth, even if there was no holy water involved. Is this really a blessing then?

Yes, a lay person can distribute ashes. Yes, a lay person can preside over a distribution of ashes outside of Mass.

Regarding what the person was wearing, perhaps it was some form of a choir robe and adornment. Something like this perhaps:



Although called a “stole” in the catalog it isn’t the same thing as what a priest wears. It is unfortunate if someone is wearing something that confuses people. Just because catalogs sell these things, doesn’t mean it is actually appropriate to buy them and use them.

I know in our diocese “confirmation stoles” had to be expressly prohibited by a letter from the bishop because they started popping up in catalogs and then people who don’t understand they are not appropriate and are not actually liturgical garb start buying them and putting them on kids.

For example:


There are no female priests or deacons in the Catholic Church. For the Latin Church, only a priest or deacon can bless the ashes. If the ashes were previously blessed then they remained blessed. For the blessing liturgy “In liturgical language a blessing is a ritual ceremony by which an authorized cleric in major orders sanctifies persons or things to divine service, or invokes divine favor on what he blesses.” – Modern Catholic Dictionary

Ok, the stole was worn like the choir stole “backwards” may I say, but the shape was the one of a regular stole. But can she blesse the ashes? She didn’t use holy water, but she did say (in german :D) Lord bless these ashes and so on, with the sign of the Cross

There is a movement to have women ordained in the Catholic Church, and a petition was submitted to the Holy See. There has been no approval of this.

I must talk to my priest. The providence wills that the auxiliary bishop (since the bishop of Vienna is a cardinal and may very well be busy these days) will visit our italian community on february 22th. :thumbsup:

I will ask him about this, but also I would like to ask you: Is that rite in any way invalidated by the behaviour of this woman? Can such a rite be invalidated in any way, actually, since it is a sacramental?

still discusssing what women wear i see,wouldn’t be there without permisssion presumably

Yes but not only. She did say the formule to bless the ashes, though without holy water. It was odd, to say the least. And if it had been blessed beforehand by the priest, it is even more odd.

EDIT: Oh, I just read on the page of the parish that Cardinal Schöborn gave her this mandate to be able to preside. Still, I don’t think she can bless the ashes nor wear what she wore.

It won’t ever happen no matter how many “movements” there are. When will they ever learn!!!??? God Bless, Memaw

I agree. Do you have an opinion on my worries? :o

Blessing the ashes seems wrong (but she may have been following the directives she was given.) Whether or not it was wrong, I think you would be better off directing your questions to your local diocese and looking at your country’s liturgical guidelines for liturgies led by lay persons. A bunch of (mostly American) English speakers on a forum might not be the best sources of help to someone who has questions about a parish event in Austria.

What she was wearing was possibly confusing but it may have been an allowable garment.

She can’t bless the ashes either, only an ordained Priest or Deacon can do that. I imagine the ashes had already been blessed by the priest before each person who was distributing them got their container of ashes. What she said had no effect on them. God Bless, Memaw

Amen, Memaw

For sacramentals, Modern Catholic Dictionary states: “Their efficacy depends not on the rite itself, as in the sacraments, but on the influence of prayerful petition; that of the person who uses them and of the Church in approving their practice.”

So then the question remains, does the Church approve of the distribution of ashes by this layperson and were they ever blessed by the clergy? We do not have enough information to answer.

It seems to me that another schism is occurring. His Eminence Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has threatened the* disobedient priests* in his jurisdiction with excommunication.


No. “She” is always a pronoun.

Seriously, though.

Yes, a layperson can conduct the distribution of ashes outside of Mass. That’s not a problem, although that sort of thing should only be done if a priest or a deacon is not available. Only a priest or deacon can bless the ashes.

Nothing resembling a stole should ever be worn over an alb by a layperson. Since no such liturgical garment exists (semi-stole or quasi-stole) in Catholic usage, it is by that very fact not permitted. The Church defines liturgical vesture, and it is not for anyone to invent something else. It is especially problematic when such a garment has the appearance of a stole. Only a cleric wears a stole.

Good to know that our bishop is clear and firm on this. It is said that he permitted her to replace the priest for such sacramentals. I am fine with it. But the blessing and the stole, I guess cardinal Schönborn didn’t allow either of them when he gave her this special mandate. For the actual blessing, i don’t know if it happened. But why would she prononce the formula and make the sign of the cross over them again? For the eyes? If she can’t, i d rather not see that. Finally I don’t think it was because of a possible schism, but it was an abuse for me. Even if she mentioned pope Francis in her written homily, asking us to meditate on the illnesses of the soul he talked about…
If you find many mistakes in this post, I m sorry. I do my best my phone, as i cant use the pc.

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