The Written Word of God

The First Reading

What Not to Miss

  • Before we receive the living Word of God in the Eucharist, we receive the written Word of God in the Scriptures.
  • God's written Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is living and effective. It changes our hearts and minds when we are receptive to it.
  • On Sundays and holy days of obligation, the First Reading is typically from the Old Testament. The law and the prophets prepared God's people for the coming of the Messiah, and they prepare us for the reading of the Gospel and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
  • The Old Testament reading is typically related to the Gospel reading. This may be through foreshadowing or because the two readings share a theme.
  • The First Reading may be from a New Testament epistle (letter) on weekdays.
  • During Easter Time, the First Reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles.
    Readings for Sundays and some feasts are on a three-year cycle (Years A, B, and C). The readings for weekdays are on a two-year cycle (Year 1 and 2). If that feels complicated to you, don't worry about it. The important thing is listening to the readings being proclaimed at the Mass you are actually attending on any given day.
  • Our response to God's Word is thanksgiving! It's an amazing blessing that God allows us to hear his voice in the Scriptures.

Next Time You Go to Mass...

  • Read the Mass readings before going to church. Help your children engage with the readings beforehand, too.
  • Listening quietly might not seem like "active participation," but it is! We must be open to receiving the spoken Word of God, and that doesn't happen by accident.
  • Pay close attention to the reading and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you directly. Ask him to speak to everyone present.
  • What stuck out to you in the reading? How can you apply that to your life?
  • Reflect on the graces God has given you through the Scriptures and thank him for these gifts.

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.