The Second Sunday in Lent
Our journey through Lent is marked by devotion and sacrifice. It is devotion that makes the sacrifice possible. Love and dedication move us to do what we might otherwise not do. The account of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac demonstrates that sense of trust that comes only from Love. Abraham shows that he is willing to do whatever God asks of him because it is God who is asking it. In the end, God protects Isaac, and Abraham offers to God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving on the altar he had prepared. We do the same thing in the Mass: we offer to God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for his goodness even as we make sacrifices to show our love and devotion. One of my favorite personal prayers, called the Universal Prayer (attributed to Pope Clement XI, who served in the early 18th Century), includes this line:
I want to do what you ask of me:
In the way you ask,
For as long as you ask,
Because you ask it.
I pray this knowing that I do not yet have that complete sense of trust that would allow me to say “yes” to God so readily, and I realize that I need his help to strengthen that love and devotion that will allow sacrifice to happen more easily. In the meantime, the Season of Lent is a time to practice sacrifice and to foster our devotion.
At Mass each day during Lent, we pray for those “preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation” at Easter. These young people and adults have been discerning and learning about the Lord and the Church through the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Last weekend at the Cathedral, Archbishop Lori accepted their intention and desire and called them to the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. They are now called “the Elect” during these final weeks of their prayer and reflection. Over the next few weeks (on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent), the Elect will be present at Masses for the rites known as the Scrutinies so that we can pray with them and for them. Let us keep them in prayer as they prepare for these steps in their walk with Jesus.