...for allowing "Lay Ministers" to administer ashes to the faithful on Ash Wednesday:
I read in our diocesan newspaper, among the general announcements about Lent and the related regulations, that in the case of "genuine pastoral necessity" lay ministers have permission to distribute ashes.
I'm fairly naive, I guess, but that got me to wondering what exactly would constitute a genuine pastoral necessity to allow lay ministers to distribute ashes. I mean, it's not like viaticum or last rites, where danger of death would be a problem to avoid. As a service to you, the reader, I have compiled my own top ten list, with apologies to David Letterman.
Top Ten Examples of Genuine Pastoral Necessity for Allowing Lay Ministers to Distribute Ashes:
10. The ashes to be distributed come from the still-burning structure of the Church in which it takes place.
9. Want to finish ceremony in time to catch Regis and Kelly.
8. All of the 10,000 members of the parish showed up for this Ash Wednesday Mass.
7. Want to finish ceremony before the release of the universal indult, which we understand is to happen Subito.
6. When allowing them to do so gives them a feeling of empowerment and self-realization.
5. One of the lay ministers is wanted by the police in connection with a crime, and they don't yet have a set of fingerprints.
4. Every one of the faithful is in full blown labor and 8cm dilated.
3. The parish has been slated for closure and the wrecking ball is outside, beginning to swing.
2. Parishioners are so used to receiving communion from these people that the sight of a Priest freaks them out.
1. Since the lay ministers themselves choose to receive ashes in the hand, they already have the supplies-- so why not?