Today is the Third Sunday of Lent. This weekend and for the next two weekends, we will be hearing the Scripture Readings from Cycle A because we will be celebrate the Rites of Scrutiny with our Elect (those preparing to receive the sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil). This Sunday we will hear the Gospel Story of the Woman at the Well upon which the First Scrutiny is based.
Below, I have included and article by Paul Turner called Scrutiny to help us understand what the Scrutinies we celebrate with the Elect are all about.
Tell people they will face a scrutiny before they can join your community, and they will probably say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Boldly, our church expects not one but three scrutinies of the Elect before their baptism at Easter. Scrutinies are rites of self-searching and repentance. When people from another spiritual background seek baptism in the Catholic Church, they do so by stages. First we accept them into the Order of Catechumens. Then as they complete their catechetical formation we enroll them among the “Elect,” or those chosen for baptism.
This Rite of Election generally coincides with the beginning of Lent. Three times during Lent the church prays the scrutinies to encourage a spirit of repentance among those who seek a worthy celebration of Baptism.
Although scrutinies have returned fairly recently to Catholic parishes, they originated early in church history. St. Ambrose and St. Augustine celebrated them in the fourth and fifth century to mark the spiritual progress of the Catechumens. The moral preparation of Catechumens included prayers of exorcism to drive out the spirit of evil which kept them from embracing Christ as their light. In the scrutinies the church discerned if those exorcisms had achieved their effect. Catechumens entered the church, stood barefoot on goatskin and renounced evil influences all night. Those unworthy of Baptism had to wait another year for Easter to roll around again.
Today’s scrutinies seem less intense. They still include an exorcism, in which the priest or deacon prays that the spirit of evil may be replaced by the spirit of good. Their purpose is not so much to examine the candidates’ mental readiness but their spiritual readiness. Scrutinies offer the Elect the support they need to approach the waters of Baptism worthily.
For those who are already baptized, the scrutinies invite us to embrace the same spirit of self-searching and repentance. At Easter we renew our baptismal promises as we see the Elect baptized. So during Lent we renew our repentance as we see the Elect scrutinized. The scrutinies remind us of the seriousness of our Christian life and inspire us to turn from evil and pursue good. They enliven our recommitment to Christ at Easter.
Copyright © 1997 Resource Publications, Inc., 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505, Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, Mo.
Thank you to all who helped out with the Soup Supper this past Wednesday, from making soup or chili, to providing bread, butter and crackers, to setting up, serving, and cleaning up. We had great attendance from the five parishes hosting the soup suppers: there were 139 people in attendance (60 of whom signed up in our own parish, even though I think from walking around and talking to everyone, there may have been even more than 60 from our parish). The soup and the fellowship were great! The next soup supper is at Holy Family Church on Wednesday, March 11.
I would like to extend a very special thank-you to those who attended the second part of the Pilgrimage of Prayer. Both the Sisters of Saint Clare and I were very surprised and most pleased at the number of people (125) who came to learn about and experience a taste of contemplative prayer. It was a very peaceful and prayerful experience. I am very grateful that Sisters Dianne Doughty and Laura Hammel were able to share their experience of prayer with us and help us enter into a couple of periods of contemplative prayer ourselves. As people left church Wednesday evening, many of them expressed to me how much they appreciated the prayer experience. Please note that next Wednesday we gather at Holy Family Church for the third week of the Pilgrimage of Prayer with the celebration of Evening Prayer.
The Parish Office has received and processed 435 individual/family parish registrations. That is a great response! However, we do know that there are many people who are attending Mass here regularly and who are even active in ministry who have not yet returned their registration forms. The Staff is getting ready to make some follow-up phone calls, but would like to give you at least one more week to return your registration form if you have not yet done so. If you wish, you may actually register online if you go to the website: www.saintjohnpauliicc.org or, if you prefer to complete a hard copy, forms are available at the church entrances and at the Parish Office Center.
Here are a few updates. 1) As you know, the new sink in the sacristy is in place. The Officers of the Rosary Altar Society came to me over a week ago, and told me that the Ladies would like to pay for the cost of the sink (as each year they take on special projects in addition to paying for the cost of hosts, wine, vestments, and candles, etc.). It was announced at the February Luncheon Meeting that they had received $2,600.00 in memorial donations for Millie Bommarito, and that they had funded the sacristy sink project from their budget. I thank them for their generosity. 2) In case you are wondering, the totals, expenses, and disbursements for the paczki sale have not yet been completed. We are still awaiting a payment from Bay City for 30 dozen paczki.
It is time to purchase and/or sell Big Raffle Tickets again. They are only $5.00 and the parish receives 50% of the profit of all tickets we sell. This year we have 1500 tickets. It would be greatly appreciated if you would take a pack of ten tickets and sell them. The raffle prizes are: a Chevrolet Spark, a Home Improvement valued at $7,500.00, a trip to Rome for two, an Apple iPad, a Computer Laptop, and three cash awards of $1,000.00. The Drawing will be held at Horizons Conference Center on April 24. If you are able to sell tickets, they will be available after Masses or at the Parish Center Office.
I encourage you to check out the pamphlet rack in the main entrance of Church. There is a variety of spiritual reading material to enhance your Lent including some booklets entitled “Preparing for Confession” and “Making a Good Confession.” Please take anything you might find helpful for yourself. The first Vicariate Communal Rite of Penance takes place on Sunday, March 15 at 3:00 pm at Saint Stephen Church.
Blessings on your Lenten Journey!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ