Octave of Easter

Reconciled to God

Is there anyone for whom you'd be willing to die? Perhaps a spouse, child, family member, or close friend? That would be difficult to do, but it would be easier than dying for a stranger or an enemy.

In theory, the Son of God could have come to die only for those who were already friends with God. However, no one on earth (with the exception of his Holy Mother) was completely without sin. Our rebellion against God made us his 
enemies, not his friends. So Jesus came to die for those who had turned their backs on their Creator—that is, the whole world.

For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
— Romans 5:6-11

The Son of God's love for mankind is infinitely greater than the greatest human love. He died to save those who hated him—all of us—from the punishment they deserved. "We will be saved by his life" means that he rose from the dead to give us eternal life, everlasting peace and friendship with God in heaven and in the resurrection to come. Alleluia!
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.