Period of Purification & Enlightenment

On the First Sunday of Lent, Bishop Cantú celebrated the Rite of Election of Catechumens at the Cathedral. This Rite opens the second stage of Christian initiation known as the Period of Purification and Enlightenment. It is for the Elect a period of final and intense preparation of heart and spirit before the reception of the Sacraments of Christian initiation at the Easter Vigil. This preparation is accomplished by means of various rites such as the scrutinies.

What are the “Scrutinies”?

The scrutinies are rites for self-searching and repentance and have above all a spiritual purpose. The Introduction of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults describes in a very concise way what the scrutinies are. It says that the scrutinies which are celebrated solemnly on Sundays, have a twofold purpose: “revealing anything that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the Elect, so that it may be healed, and revealing what is upright, strong, and holy, so that it may be strengthened.” (The Rites of the Catholic Church, 27)

The scrutinies, which are reinforced by an “exorcism,” 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. And this is evident in the words and gestures of the three scrutinies that are celebrated.

During the first scrutiny (on the Third Sunday of Lent), the Gospel passage about the Samaritan Woman is used (cf. John 4:5-42). The Elect have hands laid upon them and are prayed over and pray that they may reject everything in their lives that is contrary to Christ. During the second scrutiny (on the Fourth Sunday of Lent), the Gospel passage of the Man Born Blind is used (cf. John 9:1-41). The celebrant prays that Jesus may stir up the desire for good in the Elect, and that they may see and rejoice in Christ’s light. During the third scrutiny (on the Fifth Sunday of Lent), the Gospel passage on the Raising of Lazarus is used (cf. John 11:1-45). And the celebrant prays that the Elect be rescued from the tyranny of death, and that they be filled with faith, hope, and charity.

The celebration of the scrutinies is an opportunity for the whole community not just to observe, but to examine our own lives in such a way that the prayers of the Elect become everyone’s prayers, and the purifying of the Elect becomes the purifying of the whole community.

Let us continue to pray for our Elect, Candidates, and their families and sponsors.

Blessed Lent,
Fr. Robain