3rd Sunday of Lent


Dear Friends,

March 8 is International Women’s Day, an annual celebration to honor the achievements and contributions of women, while challenging the discrimination and oppression they continue to face. Pope Francis said: “On International Women’s Day, I think of all women: I thank them for their commitment to building a more humane society, through their ability to grasp reality with a creative eye and a tender heart.” We salute all the women for their invaluable contributions to enrich our families and communities, and pray for them in a special way.

This Sunday during the 10 am Mass, we have a Rite called ‘Scrutiny’ for the ‘Catechumen’ doing the RCIA. Are these strange terms for us? I think we will all remember that RCIA stands for the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults,” though a couple of years ago, the US Bishops decided that RCIA should be more appropriately named OCIA (Order of Christian Initiation for Adults). ‘Catechumen’ is the term used for an unbaptized person who is attending this preparation in RCIA, and ‘Candidate’ is the term used for a baptized person who did not receive Eucharist or Confirmation. This year we are privileged to have a number of people in the RCIA, preparing to receive one or more of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation) at the Easter Vigil. They are: Jason Olmedo-Hernandez, Phyllis Carbone, Gigi Fortuna-Clase, Beverly Gilliam, Norvin Gilliam, Maxwell Lumax, Claudia Roque, Chelsea Lopez, Amanda Fortuna Clase, Josh Lumax and Alexis Lumax.

So, what is this rite called ‘scrutiny’? The official Book of the RCIA explains: “It is meant to uncover, and then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good.  For the scrutinies are celebrated in order to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life.” (no.141) Essentially, it is composed of prayers of intercession and the laying on of hands so that the Holy Spirit may be invoked that they are freed from the spirit of evil. Doing the first scrutiny at Mass gives the whole congregation an opportunity to pray for and support those preparing for the Easter sacraments and to make the point that conversion is not only a personal matter but a communal commitment.

More importantly, this Rite of Scrutiny is also an opportunity for the rest of us, to self-examine and see the need for healing in our weakness, detect the sinful habits in our lives and to nourish the good within us so that we can bear good fruits for Christ. Lent is the time to learn from our mistakes of overindulgence in food, drink, drugs, gambling, promiscuity, or any other addiction that may keep us from coming to the living waters of a right relationship with God.  We all have our short list, don’t we?  And we all know, honest to God, what it is we need to leave behind before we come to the Living Water and the Bread of Heaven – as the Samaritan woman shows us in the gospel of John.

Let’s continue to live a happy and holy Lent!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal