SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT A CATHOLIC Bishop has said that, in speaking to Catholics, one often feels oneself in contact with a Faith—which lacks God. May it be that the prevailing atheism, in the form of utter indifference to the meaning and reality of God, has reduced the sense of God even among Christians, that a sense of God is lacking even in the House of God?
If one says that the Mass is an outward dramatic action re-enact
Mg the inward reality of Christ's Life, Death and Resurrection and of our communion in Him, would not one have to pardon the non-Catholic for denying the truth of the statement—a denial based on the evidence of the senses ? On the one hand he would be conscious of an archaic formalism of action and recitation of prayer formulas, on the other of a passive attendance by people, mere spectators. True, we do not rely on the vision of the eyes but on the vision of faith, but a living faith will express itself outwardly and a sacrament is meant to be an outward sign of an inward reality.
TH AT the Mass has come to
appear, as, in fact, it does, is the measure of our irreverence, of our loss of the sense of God's Transcendent Holiness and of our own condition as sinners. For the Mass, centred in Christ, is the bridge between the Holy, Living God and sinful man.
Its structure and meaning, properly understood and enacted, is a process of education in, the becoming aware of, the Mystery of God and His Salvation in Christ, a process of preparation, purification and illumination, through which we pass over into the Presence of God and Communion with Him.
The Drama of the Mass is divided into two acts, of which the first (Conjuror to the Credo) is the entrance into the second (offertory to Communion). Throughout there is a movement of ascension, through the symbols to the Reality, through the word of the Gospel to the Deed of the Sacrifice.
The first act of the Drama begins with the Confiteor before the altar— our self-accusation together in the sight of God. Then the Introit (=to go into), the Psalm originally sung as the priest approached the altar—which represents Christ, the choir and the people singing alternatively the verses and the refrain of the whole Psalm.
Today's Psalm (we should read the whole of it) appeals to God's everlasting Mercy for our deliverance, affirms our trust in Him and our love for the place where His glory dwells — where else than the altar—the meeting place of God and Man ? God spoke to Moses : " Put off they shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." How much more should we " put off " approaching the altar of Christ ? Then we cry out again and again "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy " — each three times for our cry is addressed to the Triune God. Then prayer is made in the name of all the people gathered together (—Collect) for a favour—today that we, admitting our impotence, may be defended from inward and outward adversities.
THUS prepared we are ready to listen to and be illuminated by God speaking to us, first through His prophet or apostle.
Today it is St. Paul, who says that God's will is our sanctification. our holiness (=wholeness, we can only be made whole in Christ) and warns us that injustice, sharp practice in business, is contrary to Goes Will and that Ile will avenge it.
Finally God gives us a deeper illumination through His Word, Christ—in the Gospel today we witness in company with the three Apostles -Peter, James and John, the Transfiguration of Christ, the revelation of that Glory which was His by nature. The event looks back to and confirms Peter's faith expressed in his confession : " Thou art the Christ. the Son of the Living God ": it looks forward to and prepares the three apostles. and us with them, for that other scene which they were to witness—the Agony in the Garden, leading to Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection.
Each Lent we pass through that Way. Each Mass re-enacts that pilgrimage—for do we not offer anew that Sacrifice and are we not transformed, transfigured through Cornmunioo with the Christ of Glory, thus receiving the pledge of our own future glory ?
March 5-11 SUN., MARCH 5. 2nd in Lent, sd. 2nd prayer A cunctis, 3rd Omnipotens. Cr., Pref. of Lent. (Purple).
MON., MARCH 6. SS. Perpetua and Felicity, d. (Red).
TUES., MARCH 7. St. Thomas Aquinas, d. (White).
WED., MARCH 8. St. John of God, d. (White), THURS., MARCH 9. St. Frances of Rome. d. (White).
FRT., MARCH 10. The Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste, sd. (Red). SAT.. MARCH 11. Feria. (Purple).