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I received ashes on Ash Wednesday, but my two-year-old son did not. Instead he was given a blessing. Is this a new practice?

Full Question

I received ashes on Ash Wednesday, but my two-year-old son did not. Instead he was given a blessing. Is this a new practice?


Some think that blessed ashes should only be given to those capable of personal sin and so do not give them to children below the age of reason. This is a misunderstanding of the sacramental. The blessed ashes remind us of our mortality (e.g., the traditional words of imposition are “Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return”) and of our common sinful condition, shared through original sin even by those incapable of personal sin (e.g., young children, the cognitively disabled).

If this should happen again on future Ash Wednesdays, politely ask that ashes be given to your son. If you get argument, you might point out that, “Today’s reading from Joel says that ‘children, even nursing infants’ (2:16) are to be included in the communal penance.”


  1. nicolemarie007 Reply

    If it was a eucharistic minister then that is the reason your child didn’t get the ashes. The eucharistic minister was probably inexperienced.

    1. Alexander Reply

      Ashes is a just a man established tradition that has nothing to do with salvation or forgiveness of sin and is not a teaching in the gospel therefore this is a dogma practice based on worldly pegan worship don’t be fooled Follow Jesus, not man. (Spiritual)

  2. Corazon Galano Reply

    The blessing of small children instead of giving them ashes is not a new practice. The distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday is not a meaningless ritual. It serves to remind us to repent of our sins and turn back to God. And for many years now, as the ashes are placed on our forehead in the form of a cross, the priest now says: “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel”. To give it to small children who are sinless would result in a meaningless ritual. Even the old words “Remember that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return” would still result in a meaningless ritual when ashes are given to small children. To give them a blessing instead is full of meaning and reiterates that they are loved by God.

  3. Deacon Ray Reply

    Please request your pastor to educate his Eucharistic Ministers if this was done by one or if a priest let the bishop know and set him straight,

  4. Milton Marini Reply

    Whatever happened to “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel”, which summarizes the whole purpose of Lent? In that context giving the child a blessing makes perfect sense.

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