Week After Pentecost

Go Forth!

The end of a festive season can feel like a letdown. Ordinary Time can feel so... ordinary. Perhaps recognizing this, the Church has given us a series of post-Easter feasts that not only keep our spirits up, but also remind us of the ways that God equips us to carry out his mission in the long Ordinary Time of everyday life. If we prayerfully engage with the liturgy, Ordinary Time becomes an extraordinary adventure with Christ and our fellow pilgrims.

Pentecost Sunday
 itself reminds us that Christ has sent the Holy Spirit to empower and defend his Church. The Spirit guides us, gives us his gifts (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and the fear of the Lord), and endows us with charisms to serve the Church and preach the Gospel. We need him to go out on mission.

The Sunday following Pentecost is the 
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This feast highlights the nature of God as a loving communion of three Divine Persons. Our sacramental participation in Christ's Death and Resurrection, which we celebrated during Easter Time, has drawn us into the infinite love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Abiding in this love is the most important thing we can do as we go forth into the rest of the year.

After Trinity comes 
the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Corpus Christi is a celebration of the Eucharist, which is Christ's presence among us and our food for the journey of life. The Eucharistic processions that accompany this feast powerfully demonstrate the way that Christ leads us as we bear witness to his Gospel in our communities.

Next comes the 
Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast reminds us of the human and divine love of Christ that is always with us. The next day is the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady's constant contemplation of her Son's teachings and actions serves as an example for us, and her constant prayers strengthen us for mission.

This concludes the feasts that are directly tied to Easter on the liturgical calendar, but Ordinary Time has several other tentpole feasts that see us through to the end of the year. In August we celebrate the 
Assumption and Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When she was assumed into heaven and crowned as its queen, Mary's outstanding participation in her Son's Death, Resurrection, and reign were brought to completion. These feasts help us benefit both from her example and from her prayers. They give us hope of the glory that awaits us when we enter heaven and receive a share in Christ's glory and kingship.

Similarly, the 
Solemnity of All Saints holds up the example of all the holy men and women who served Christ faithfully, carried out his mission, and entered into his heavenly peace. Finally, the liturgical year ends with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. In this feast we see both the present reign of Christ over all the earth and the future fulfillment of his reign when he comes again. If Pentecost is the starting line of Ordinary Time and the Christian life, Christ the King is the finish line.

If we allow these feasts to direct our gaze to things eternal that flow out of Easter, Christ's peace will dwell in our hearts and we will be able to spread it everywhere we go.

"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
— Matthew 28:20

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.