Second Sunday of Lent—8 March AD 2009
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Psalm 90-Translated from
the Old Latin
During the past few weeks I have encouraged you to renew
your spiritual life by means of the Lenten observances. You might begin by
making a careful examination of conscience, and then a good Confession. If
you make your prayers regular, keep the fasting and abstinence, and do some
spiritual reading, you will receive an increase of God’s graces in your soul.
It is through this grace that you soul is elevated to living life with
God—even to the point of partaking in His divine nature. The Holy Ghost
literally dwells in the souls of those who wish to unite their lives with God,
bringing sanctifying grace to make that person radically holy. The holy
soul is strengthened by God’s graces—the unholy soul is weakened by sin in
its various forms.
It may help to explain the effects of sanctifying grace in
somewhat greater detail. You may remember that one of the chief effects of
sanctifying grace is to fill us with the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope,
and Charity. These virtues are called “theological” because through
them we move into closer and closer union with God, and eventually become
suitable to dwell in His presence forever in eternity. Like any of the
virtues, they give us a certain power, or inclination towards the good—with
the theological virtues, the good is God Himself.
The first of these virtues, Faith, comes at the very
beginning of our relationship with God. It is the virtue which prepares us
for our salvation. It also happens to be one of the most poorly understood
of the virtues; and as a word, “faith” may be the most misused word in
our English language.
So, to begin with, let us talk a little bit about Faith is not.
Faith is not something emotional. It is not something which
we acquire by “psyching ourselves up,” or by allowing our feelings to be
carried away by a great preacher, or the mood of the crowd. Faith is not
desperately believing in anything and everything that seems somehow religious,
in style or out of style. It is most certainly not the giving up of
one’s reason, nor is it belief in the impossible.
Faith, purely and simply, is believing the things that God
has told us about Himself—and believing these things because it is God Himself
who has revealed them—God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
Faith is a virtue of the intellect—it enables to know God as He truly is, and
not in some vague emotional feeling. It allows us to know God, so that we
may love Him and serve Him in this world, and then to be happy with Him in the
The Gospel this morning gives us an example of how Faith
works. Our Lord did not simply round up the Apostles by the seaside
and announce “I am the Son of God, do the things that I tell you.” On
the contrary, He gave them tangible evidence. Over a period of time they
had heard Him speak wisdom; they had seen the lame and the blind and the
deaf and the dumb cured; they had seen fish and loaves of bread multiplied
to feed thousands; they had seen Jesus walk upon the water; they had
seen even a resurrection or two. Peter had correctly identified the Son of
Man as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
But now, it is all brought together. On Mount Tabor,
Jesus is seen speaking with Moses and Elias—a sort of reassurance that the
teachings of Jesus are a continuation of the revelations their ancestors had
from God through the Law and the Prophets. And before their eyes, Jesus
was transfigured in dazzling splendor—an earthly foretaste of the glory
bestowed upon the souls who persevere in God’s grace—a shining hint of
the splendor of God Himself. We even hear the voice of the Father
acknowledging, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye
All of these—so to speak—“credentials” of our Lord
were presented to His Apostles and other followers. The are presented, as
well, to us, so that we may see the authority of God, and accept all of the
things that He tells us through His Son, and through His Son’s Church.
But, of course, Faith is more than just reading an
historical account and believing it on the testimony of those who witnessed it
and recorded it for posterity—that would be mere human faith. Faith in
the supernatural sense means that God Himself will strengthen our intellect to
accept and hold His truth—strengthen it to deep conviction about the things we
have learned from holy Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Supernatural Faith
will give us the intellectual fortitude, even to face martyrdom for the truth,
should that be necessary.
Faith is the virtue through which every other virtue flows.
Without Faith, there can be no Hope, no Charity. Faith, after all, is the
virtue by which we are justified—it does not immediately bring salvation as
some would suggest—but it does make us able to enter into a relationship with
God in which the good things we do are pleasing to Him. A relationship
that will bring forth Hope and Charity, drawing us closer to God, and preparing
us for eternity with Him.
So, during your observance of Lent, pray for an increase in
Faith. Pray for an increase in your own Faith. But pray also for
those around you who have either lost the Faith or never had it. That
might mean praying for family and friends. It might mean praying for those
who lead civil society—that their rule might be enlightened by the knowledge
of God’s will. Pray also for those who lead the Church, for we are going
through a period when many of them hold confused notions about the nature of
Pray for an increase in Faith, so that you may become more
pleasing to God—that you may become His beloved sons and daughters, with whom
He is well pleased.