Lent is a very beautiful and powerful liturgical season in our Church and I want all parishioners to have a deeper appreciation for that fact.  The Lenten season is a crucial time for those unbaptized persons who desire to become members of our faith community.  We just celebrated the Rite of Election for this group last Saturday during which the Church community acknowledged their progress in seeking admission to the Faith.  Now known as the “Elect”, they are in their final stages of preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation which they will receive at the Easter Vigil.  In the following three Sundays of Lent, each week we will celebrate with them what is traditionally called a “Scrutiny”.  Special readings are selected for the Masses during which the rite is celebrated and the entire congregation present is called upon to engage in supporting the Elect.  The purpose of the rite is to focus the Elect on uncovering all that is weak, defective or sinful in their hearts and to bring out and strengthen all that is upright and good in their souls.  Scripture tells us continually of the reality of the presence of Satan and evil in the world and the effort that Satan uses to corrupt our souls.  This is especially true for those who have not yet been baptized and are preparing for their initiation.  Satan works particularly hard on keeping them from going through the process and these rites are specifically designed to counter those evil efforts. The first of these is themed on Christ as the living water, the second focuses on the need for the Elect to come to believe in Christ and witness His power to the world and the third emphasizes Christ’s power over sin and death, all of which they will experience in the waters of Baptism, the anointing of Confirmation and the reception of the Eucharist in their initiation at Easter Vigil.  The readings for each of the three Sundays present the focus of each of these themes.  During the rite, there are prayers of exorcism that are related to the Gospel reading for each Sunday which include the congregation for their support.  Lent is the perfect time that we all should be focusing on what is weak, defective or sinful in our lives and praying, fasting and giving of ourselves to strengthen and bring forth what is holy and good in our hearts.  As we have done with other Rites in the RCIA process, the Scrutinies will be celebrated at a different Mass on each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of the season.  I encourage you, if you are present at one of those liturgies, to enter into the celebration with your whole heart and demonstrate your support and fellowship with those who have been studying, praying and longing for that day when they can become a full member of our Faith.  Check “Conversion Corner” in the bulletin for what Mass will include one of these rites in the next three weeks.  Thank you for your prayers and support.  I pray that this is your ‘best Lent ever’!  God bless!

Pastor’s Points is a bi-weekly feature about faith, family, and life, from our pastor, Father James Flynn. It is published in our parish bulletins, as well.