The Church Militant
Posted by james0235 on February 22, 2012
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. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Collect, Ash Wednesday
We kick of Lent with this, the opening prayer, or Collect, for Ash Wednesday. And what an opening it is. The Church is reminding us that we are at war and “our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12 NAB) and our weapon in this fight is the self-restraint that is learned by disciplining the body through fasting.
The very idea of waging a “campaign of Christian service” is very evocative of Matthew 16 where Jesus tells us that the gates of hell will not be able to stand against the Church. This doesn’t just mean that the Church will not be overcome by the powers of hell. Rather, Jesus puts hell itself on the defensive. The Church brings the battle to the forces of evil and she will be victorious.
I couldn’t help but notice the different tone this prayer has compared to previous years considering the new, corrected Mass translations. The previous “translation”, rather than having us wage a “campaign of Christian service” had us asking God to “protect us in our struggle against evil”. It really feels different to be marching to victory rather than cowering in fear.