Our Pilgrimage to Mass

The Entrance

What Not to Miss

  • Mass begins with a procession that is symbolic of our pilgrimage through life to heaven (represented by the sanctuary where the altar is located).
  • The Cross leads the procession, also making the entrance a symbol of Jesus' journey to Calvary.
  • Next come ministers (altar servers) bearing candles, which symbolize the light of Christ illuminating our way.
  • After the candle bearers come the deacon and/or lectors with the Book of the Gospels, since God's Word guides us as we journey through life.
  • The last person in the procession is the presiding priest and any other priests who will concelebrate the Mass. Priests act in the person of Christ the Head of the Church (his Body) when they lead the prayers of the congregation.
  • Incense may be used to honor the Lord and to symbolize our prayers rising up to heaven.
  • The day's Mass has an entrance chant (typically from the Psalms), but many parishes replace it with a hymn. Whatever chant or song we sing, it sets the tone for the liturgy and brings the congregation together for prayer.
  • The priest bows to the altar and kisses it lovingly, since it is a symbol of Christ. He also does this to venerate the relics of saints that are contained within the altar.
  • Sitting in the presider's chair in the sanctuary allows the priest to visibly lead the people in prayer.

Next Time You Go to Mass...

  • Reflect on how Jesus has been with you in the time since you last attended Mass and thank him for his guidance in your life.
  • Consider whether you or someone in your family could serve as an altar server or another liturgical minister.
  • Pray that God will give your priest the grace to lead his people well.
  • Sing the entrance chant or hymn! It doesn't matter if you don't have a choir-ready voice. This is about glorifying God, not what others think.
  • Ask for the prayers of the saints whose relics are in your parish's altar. Learn more about them after Mass if you can.

Learn More About Relics

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.