Receiving Ashes from a non Catholic minister?

I am a Catholic and look forward to receiving ashes every year. Because I am also a nursing student in college, I usually attend a service around 6 am that offers the distribution of ashes. Where I am currently, none of the local Catholic churches offer ashes that early in the morning and we have to be at the hospital at about 8 am on Ash Wednesday for class. I have noticed that a lot of hospitals offer ashes on Ash Wednesday, but the distribution is done by a chaplain and not a Catholic. I know that as Catholics, when attending another christian church we are not supposed to participate in communion but is this the same for ash wednesday? Can I receive ashes from a non-Catholic?


While ashes are not a sacrament nor do they inherently imply full communion, there is a bit of danger of religious indifference when we participate in non-Catholic ceremonies. We should ask ourselves if the religious service contains anything that would be contrary to our faith or if the ashes in the ceremony are taking on a significance contrary to the Catholic faith.
If those dangers are avoided, then I would reason that receiving ashes from a non-Catholic minister would be comparable to receiving a crucifix or other religious item from a non-Catholic minister and thus acceptable under proper conditions. I would suggest you could look into a Catholic Ash Wednesday Mass or service that takes place after you get out of work. However if attending a Catholic Mass or service before or after work is impractical for you then I can see receiving the ashes at your hospital from a non-Catholic chaplain as permissible (assuming the danger of religious indifference is not present).

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