Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Second Sunday of Lent—8 March AD 2009

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Lenten Observance
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 next world.

    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.”[1]

    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 Him.”[2]

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 truth itself.

    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.


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