Praise the Lord!

The Alleluia

What Not to Miss

  • We stand for the Alleluia and the Gospel to show our attentiveness and reverence.
  • "Alleluia" is a Hebrew word meaning "Praise the Lord." We proclaim it to give glory to Christ and to acknowledge that it is Jesus who speaks to us when the words of the Gospel are proclaimed in the liturgy.
  • Only an ordained man—a deacon, priest, or bishop—can proclaim the Gospel at Mass. Ordination configures a man toward Christ so he can act in the person of Christ in the public prayer of the Church. We recognize this special spiritual grace, as we did in the introductory rites, when we say "And with your spirit."
  • The Church "fasts" from the Alleluia during Lent. A different Gospel acclamation is used. Then the Alleluia joyfully returns at Easter to praise the Lord for his Resurrection.
  • The Alleluia is similar in structure to the Responsorial Psalm: "Alleluia" is used as the response to a verse that prepares us to hear the Gospel.
  • We honor the Book of the Gospels with a procession, and sometimes with incense, because it contains the words of Jesus.
  • The deacon or priest prepares himself to proclaim the Gospel with private prayers between him and God.
  • The Sign of the Cross that the deacon or priest makes on his forehead, mouth, and breast is imitated by the people as a prayer for the Gospel to permeate each of these parts of our bodies, which symbolize our thoughts, words, and interior dispositions.

Next Time You Go to Mass...

  • Honor Jesus in your heart as you honor him with your words and gestures at this part of the Mass.
  • As you make the triple Sign of the Cross, pray that God's will place his Word in your mind, mouth, and heart.
  • Pray that the deacon or priest will worthily proclaim Christ's words.

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.