Listening to God's Voice

Overview of the Liturgy of the Word

God truly speaks to us when the Scriptures are read. The Bible contains the "family history" of the people of God as well as wisdom, prophecy, and encouragement, all inspired by the Holy Spirit. We are called to listen attentively and receptively to the First Reading and to prayerfully respond by singing the Responsorial Psalm. On Sundays and solemnities, we also listen to a Second Reading. Then we hear of the words and actions of the Lord from one of the Gospels. A priest or deacon helps us understand and apply what we have heard with his homily. Afterward, we profess our faith in what we have heard by praying the Creed. Finally, we ask for God's blessing on the whole world through the Universal Prayer. All of the readings and prayers of the Liturgy of the Word reinforce our identity as baptized members of the Church who are able to encounter him sacramentally in the second major part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
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.