Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Third Sunday in Lent—4 March A.D. 2018
Ave Maria!


Daylight Saving Time begins next Sunday,
March 11 at 2:00 AM.  Drink plenty of fluids, get to bed early.
Blame the government, and not the Church.

Please pray for Alfie Evans, 21 Months old.
Socialized medicine in Britain cannot diagnose his problem, refuses to let him go elsewhere,
and now wants to take him off life-support.

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Lenten Observance

    Today's Gospel is taken from the 11th chapter of Saint Luke.[1]   As always, it is worth going home and reading the material that comes before and after the brief selection read from the pulpit.  If you do, you will read about the great Commandment of the Law: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart … and thy neighbor as thyself.”[2]  You'll read about the Good Samaritan,[3] the visit of our Lord to the house of Martha and Mary,[4] the institution of the Lord's Prayer (the "Our Father")[5], and a very simple parable on how God loves us as His very children and how He is anxious to give us the things that are necessary for our well-being.  Following today's selection there are some interesting criticisms of those who are more concerned with appearances than with reality, and how they tend to be hypocrites.

    But today's selection was chosen by the Church in order to tell us something about this Lenten season that we are observing.  It opens with our Lord casting out a devil.  And that is pretty much what Lent is about, isn't it? ... the casting out of the devil from our lives, so that we can be more closely united to God in sanctifying grace.  Our Lord uses this occasion to warn us that if we are to be free of the influence of the devil, we must make a complete break with him:  “A kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation.”  There is no such thing as “part time holiness.”  We can't be holy on Sunday morning if we intend to return to sin on Monday.  To be holy requires making use of holy things and holy intentions to the exclusion of all that is evil.  Lent, then, must be an exercise in freeing ourselves from any of the persons, places, or things that might tempt us to sin.

    Our Lord is telling us, too, that holiness cannot be achieved by us on our own.  There is a danger in Lent, in that if we make a good Lent from the perspective of self-denial, we may be tempted to credit our success to our own strength.  If is easy to be fooled into thinking that by our own enthusiastic efforts we were able to deliver ourselves from the temptations and allurements of the world.  The devil would like nothing more than for us to be pleased with ourselves over a “successful” Lent, because the devil knows the truth of what our Lord tells us;  “that the stronger man will come and take away our weapons and divide our spoils.”  He knows the truth of the statement that “the unclean spirit, having gone out of a man, will return, and that the last state of that man will be worse than the first.”

    Simply stated, the only One strong enough to do battle with the devil and to win is Almighty God Himself.  The devil is a fallen angel; a creature with an intellect far superior to our own.  Only when our efforts are supported by God with His sanctifying and actual graces are we strong enough to vanquish the evil one.  Our Lord is able to say, very succinctly, “He who is not with Me is against Me;  he who does not gather with Me, scatters.”[6]  One does not have to actively oppose God to be against Him—anything less than a positive effort to cooperate with God’s graces amounts to opposing Him.

    Today's selection ends on a rather peculiar note.  As Catholics, we probably expect to hear a different answer from our Lord to the woman who was praising His Blessed Mother.  Perhaps we are disappointed that He did not seem to agree with the woman and have some word of praise for the Blessed Virgin.  Instead, He uses her praise to remind us of a fundamental truth:  All of us have free will.  Even the Blessed Virgin had free will:  she could have sinned just as we can.  The fact that our Lord was a relative—even her Son—was not the thing that made Mary holy.  After all, many of the house of David rejected Jesus all together    they benefitted not at all from their relationship.  The thing that made Mary holy was that she “heard the word of God and kept it.”  She made the effort to cooperate with the graces that God gave her.

    The secret of a good Lent is to do likewise.  It is not enough to rely on our own efforts, although, of course, we must make an effort.  That effort is going to be adequate only in cooperation with God's graces.  If we are not joined with Christ, we are against Him.  And one stronger than we will come and take away everything.  It is useless to point to our relationship with Christ if we do not “hear His words and keep them.”  Our Lord is telling us that in keeping a good Lent we must imitate His Blessed Virgin Mother, for much more important than any blood relationship was the unity of her free will with the will of God.

    Such imitation of Mary is the secret of Lent, just as it is the secret of the spiritual life throughout the rest of the year.  Blessed is the womb that bore Him and the breasts that nursed Him;  blessed is she, for more perfectly than anyone else, she heard the word of God and kept it.  And, blessed are those who do likewise.





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