Octave of Easter

Grieving With Hope

Thus far, we have focused on having peace in the face of our own death. But what about the deaths of others? St. Paul shares these words of comfort:

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words. — 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
It's natural to mourn for our departed loved ones, but in Christ, we do not have to mourn without hope. Anyone who died in friendship with the Lord will be purified in purgatory, enter into the joy of heaven, and be assured of a glorious resurrection on the last day. True, we don't have certain knowledge about anyone's eternal destiny. However, we can hope and pray for anyone who has died, even if it outwardly appeared that they were far from the Lord.
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.