Lift Up Your Hearts

The Preface

What Not to Miss

  • We have now reached the Eucharistic Prayer, in which Christ will finally become fully present. This prayer has several parts, beginning with the Preface.
  • There are four Eucharistic Prayers that can be used at Masses (I, II, III, and IV), plus a few other options for particular occasions.
  • As at the greeting at beginning of the Liturgy of the Word, the priest prays "The Lord be with you," with the people responding "And with your spirit." These prayers invite God's presence and ask him to equip the priest and people, each in their own particular ways, to offer the holy sacrifice.
  • The priest invites the people to offer their hearts to God in thanksgiving and praise. This is "right and just" because of God's great love for us, which will be made manifest in the Eucharist, which is Christ's sacrifice.
  • The Preface, which is the first part of the Eucharistic Prayer, varies depending on the liturgical season or feast and on the Eucharistic Prayer being used.
  • The beginnings and conclusions of the different Prefaces are generally the same or similar.
  • The beginning of a Preface focuses on the theme of thanksgiving and is fairly consistent in different Prefaces.
  • The middle part of a Preface praises God in a way that is related to the day's Mass (e.g. Lenten penance, Easter joy, the witness of a saint, etc.).
  • The conclusion of a Preface joins our praises with those of the saints and angels in heaven. Like the beginning, it is fairly consistent in different Prefaces.
  • The Preface concludes with the Sanctus, which we will explore next time.

Next Time You Go to Mass...

  • Take this as an opportunity to focus your attention on the Lord as the Eucharistic Prayer begins.
  • Participate in the dialogue with a heart of thanksgiving and praise. After all, "Eucharist" means "thanksgiving"!
  • Pray for your priest and your fellow parishioners, that each will participate in the Mass wholeheartedly.
  • Listen carefully to the Preface and absorb its significance for today's Mass.

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.