Trust in God
“O Lord, who
seest that we have no power whatever from ourselves; keep us both outwardly
in our bodies and inwardly in our souls....”
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
This is the second Sunday of Lent, and perhaps by now
you have discovered that some Lents are better than others. Hopefully this
is turning out to be a good one for you, and you are feeling good about the
prayer and penance you have been doing—hopefully you have that feeling of
confidence which tells you that things are going smoothly; that it will soon
be Easter Sunday, and you'll be able to look back knowing that you spent
this time growing in God's graces. Well, good—keep at it!
But, for some of you, it may not be going so smoothly.
You may be trying hard enough—yet for all your trying, you don't feel
particularly close to God; you feel distracted in your prayers; you've been
unable to keep to fasting you planned; you can't get into your spiritual
reading—any one of the dozen or so things that can go wrong; and several of
Don't be too disturbed if you are having those kinds of
difficulties in making a good Lent. They're pretty normal. As human
beings, we all have our “ups” and our “downs.” That's certainly as true in
the spiritual life as it is in any other aspect of our lives.
Sometimes our daily problems get in the way—sometimes
our family life—or our physical health. Human beings are emotional
creatures, and everything we do isn't always logical or consistent.
Perhaps, most of all, we are subject to temptation—the devil is envious that
we can get close to God and he can't—he does everything in his power to
frustrate our efforts; to make us feel bad; and even to lapse into despair
A lot of good people that I've talked to assure me that
the devil seems to be most active during Advent and Lent—so that he can mess
up our relationship with God just in time for Christmas or Easter.
But, if we ponder the prayers and most of the chants of
this Mass—the Introit, the Gradual, the Collect, and so on—we can see again
that all of this is to be expected. In fact, we ought to reflect on the
fact that unless we are aided by God's graces, we can do nothing. That's
what all of those prayers are for—to appeal for His graces.
Now, we have to be careful with that—because if we are
afraid that God is stingy and selective about to whom He gives His graces,
we may fall into despair. And that kind of despair will drive us in one of
two directions; both bad.
Despair may drive us to wild abandon—“If I can't be
good, I may as well be as bad as I can, and enjoy it while it lasts.”
That's pretty much the mistake of the modern world.
Or, despair may drive us to presumption—“that since I
can do nothing, I will sit back and let God do everything.” That was the
mistake of Martin Luther
Both mistakes wind up being about the same; because
both cause us to fall away from making the effort to do the will of God.
And, you will notice that Saint Paul, today, identifies God's will with our
sanctification—“For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”
But the good news is that God gives us His graces
freely. We know that He died for the redemption of all mankind—that He
doesn't give His graces to some, and withhold them from others. He gives
them to all of us—and all we have to do is to cooperate with Him to the best
of our ability.
And that too is important—“To the best of our
ability.” Our cooperation with God may not be perfect—there are literally
dozens of earthly things that can get in the way.
But there is an implicit promise in today's Mass. In
these various prayers we ask for God's graces, and for help to do His will.
And in return, in the Gospel, God grants us a glimpse of Himself in glory—in
His Transfiguration. And that transfiguration is a foreshadowing of the
glory that He has in store for us in heaven. It's as though God is
acknowledging our prayers, saying, “Yes, I know that you have difficulty,
but stick with Me and things will be alright.”
So, do take heart. Remember that being discouraged
about Lent may be just the result of the human condition—or it may be the
devil trying to lead us away from God into despair.
A bit of difficulty in keeping a good Lent is not
unusual. Ask for God's help, and trust Him to furnish the graces that are
Remember that if we cooperate, and do His will to the
best of our ability, we have been promised a share in His future glory.
“The troubles of my heart are multiplied. Deliver me
from my necessities, O Lord. See my abjection and my labor, and forgive me
all my sins.”
Take heart—keep the Faith—make a good Lent!