Close Encounter

Overview of the Liturgy of the Eucharist

If the Mass is like a story, then its second half, the Liturgy of the Eucharistis where we reach the climax. It is our closest encounter with the Lord both in the Mass and in our lives. The priest presides in the person of Christ the Head and the people participate as members of Christ's Body. Together, we offer a sacrifice pleasing to the Father: his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord's sacrifice on the Cross is made present, and our lives are bound up with it and offered to the Father. The bread and wine and transubstantiated into Christ's Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. When we receive the Eucharist in Holy Communion, we are profoundly united with Jesus and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
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.