From a reader:
Are children of any age able to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday or is First Communion/Confirmation required first? My son is almost 2.
Yes, children of any age can receive ashes. That’s up to you parents and, I suppose, the willingness of little stupor mundi to submit to the moment without having a fit.
I suspect that these very early memories could play a part in a deeper formation of identity.
Watch out, however, lest ashes get into the eyes of the really little ones.
Come to think of it, I don’t see why non-Catholics couldn’t receive ashes. They are not forbidden from making the sign of the Cross with Holy Water when entering our churches. They can have blessed palms on Palm Sunday. Why couldn’t they get some ashes on Ash Wednesday?