Sunday of Lent—28
February AD 2021
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Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
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....”
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 them have.
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 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 and depression.
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 whom He gives His graces to, we may fall into despair.
And that kind of despair will drive us in one of two directions; both
Despair may drive
us 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
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.
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 necessary. 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.
Take heart—keep the
Faith—make a good Lent!