Week After Ascension

Thy Kingdom Come

Though God's kingdom is already among us in the person of Jesus, the Lord also taught his followers to pray for the coming of the kingdom:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

When we pray the Our Father, we ask God that his name would be worshiped and reverenced throughout the world. After all, respect for the king is essential if his kingdom is to stand strong. We ask for him to establish his kingdom on earth in the same way that it is already established in heaven. We ask our heavenly King to do what any good king wants to do for his people: provide for their needs, forgive their offenses, hold them to a high standard of behavior, and protect them from harm and corruption. In sum, we ask Christ to establish his kingdom of peace more fully in our own hearts, the hearts of others, and in all of creation:

His kingdom comes in our hearts when we love him, love our neighbor, conform our wills to his, and obey his commandments.

His kingdom comes in the hearts of others as the Holy Spirit draws them to Christ and gives them grace through the sacraments, incorporating them into the Church.

His kingdom will come in creation, ultimately, at the end of the age. But we can build up the kingdom now through worship, evangelization, and the works of mercy.

In this age, the kingdom of heaven is present in our hearts, the Church, and creation in an obscured and incomplete way. The peace of Christ is with us, but we also say "Peace be with you" to each other as a prayer for the peace of the kingdom to become more completely realized in our hearts and lives. When the Risen Lord returns to restore all things, he will fully and visibly establish his kingdom once and for all.
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.