Today’s Gospel tells the story of the Transfiguration. The Transfiguration occupies a place in the season of Lent similar to its position in the gospels themselves. It occurs before our Lord’s passion, during which his appearance will be far from divine, as he is beaten, bloody and weak. We will hear in the First Reading on Good Friday: “[T]here was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him.” (Isaiah 53:2bc) On Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, we will hear in the Second Reading: “Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7a, 8) The Transfiguration is intended to sustain us in the face of Christ’s passion, just as it was granted to the disciples who would witness his passion, so that we do not give in to despair but see the passion as the prelude to the revelation of Christ’s glory. We already know the end of the story: the good news of the resurrection. This Transfiguration Sunday reminds us to keep that vision before us as we continue our Lenten pilgrimage toward Easter.
This Lent it is time again for us to “turn away from sin and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) The sacrament of penance is the most powerful means of persevering in this resolve, because its grace is the result of Christ’s obedient sacrifice for the redemption of the world. The Lenten discipline of prayer and penance finds its completion in a good confession and act of contrition. The prayer of absolution frees us from the sinful entanglements into which we fall. Remember also to participate in Operation Rice Bowl or in some other charitable cause this Lent.
One popular Lenten devotion is the Way of the Cross. This is a spiritual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to recall and meditate upon Jesus’ final journey from his condemnation by Pontius Pilate to Mount Calvary and his burial in the tomb. It is a devotion that you can do alone at home or in church. The best way, though, is with a congregation in church. During Lent the Stations are celebrated at St. Peter’s along with the Mother of Perpetual Help Novena on Monday evenings at 6:30. At St. Charles they are celebrated before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on Friday evenings at 5:30. Finally, they are celebrated with the students of St. Peter’s School in the church on Thursdays at 12:00 noon. Try to participate with the members of your household at any of these times.
We were blessed with a foretaste of spring this past week with temperatures above freezing and some sunshine. That was quite a reprieve from what we experienced most of February. At least we were prepared for the frigid conditions, unlike our fellow countrymen to the south, especially in Texas, who will need months to recover from freezing conditions, ice, broken water pipes, and the resulting damage to homes and businesses. We in Wisconsin are fortunate to live where we do, especially in light of so much extreme weather that has been going on around us!
Pray the Rosary again this week for people seeking reconciliation with God and the Church this Lent or preparing to become Catholic. Pray for our fellow countrymen to the south as they deal with the effects of extreme weather and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.