National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Benedict's Bear and Our Transfiguration

User's Guide to Sunday

BY Tom and April Hoopes

March 13-26, 2011 Issue | Posted 3/4/11 at 2:05 PM

 

Sunday, March 20, is the Second Sunday of Lent (Year A, Cycle I).


Papal

On March 20, Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Mass and rite of dedication of the new parish of St. Corbinian in Rome. In dedicating the modern-style San Corbiano, Pope Benedict XVI will be revisiting his coat of arms.

The bear with a backpack is the hagiographical symbol of St. Corbinian, the evangelizer of Bavaria. The legend goes that St. Corbinian’s horse was killed by a bear when he was once on his way to Rome. The saint commanded the bear to carry his load instead. The bear did — and now represents obedience to God’s will.

Pope Benedict sees himself in Corbinian’s bear. Before he became Pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was looking forward to returning to his beloved Bavaria and the apartment he shared with his older brother, a priest and musician. But, like the bear, he was sent to Rome instead, carrying the weight of his office.

To find what the other coat of arms symbols represent, go to NCRegister.com and search the words: “Benedict coat of arms.”


Feast

Friday, March 25, is the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Solemnities take precedence over Friday abstinence from meat, so you’re free to have a burger this Friday, even though it’s Lent.


Readings

Genesis 12:1-4; Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9


Our Take

We hear the story of the Transfiguration in August, but also today on the Second Sunday of Lent. It is a nice reminder of why we do what we do in Lent.

We are familiar with the three aims of Lent: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. That’s one way to divide the Christian life into threes. Another way is what Christ says: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (or his three roles as king, prophet and priest).

He is the way: He sets the moral path to heaven.

He is the truth: He is the revelation of who God is.

He is the life: He is the head of the community, the Church.

Our Lenten program should follow the same three paths:

Fasting helps us grow in our ability to follow the moral way of Christ.

Prayer puts us in touch with God’s own prophetic truth.

Almsgiving connects us with the community of people who are part of the Church and, thus, Christ’s ongoing life.

The goal? Our own transfiguration, prompting the people in our lives to say, “Wow. You seem different. What did you change?”

Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.