"Inspectio Cordis": Second Sunday of Lent, Feb. 25

Abraham – without the Bible – had the courage to respond, “Here I am!” to the voice of God. We, who have the entire story of salvation history, the teaching of the Church, and more, are called to listen.

By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC

A gaze of the heart. Examining the depth of one’s heart.

There is no one way to translate the Latin title Inspectio Cordis, given to the collection of meditations for Sundays by the Founder of the Marians, St. Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701).

These meditations, published weekly on Fridays in preparation for the Sunday Mass, follow the style and purpose of our holy Father Founder. While his original text is worth reading, his examples and style can feel outdated to the modern reader. As his spiritual son, I will attempt my best to imitate his style and imitate his ministry of preaching to hearts.

The goal is to allow Jesus to gaze into your heart and teach you self-examination, leading you to a more fruitful reception of Holy Communion, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart – especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival.


Second Sunday of Lent – Cycle B
February 25, 2024

Before Holy Communion

1. “Here I am!"
After their sin, God inquired of Adam: “Where are you?” He, with Eve, were hiding themselves. Abraham, however, shows an entirely different attitude in his response: “Here I am!” Responding to the voice of the living God requires courage that leads us out of our hiding places of mediocrity and sloth. While we often focus upon Abraham’s determination to obey, even to offering his son Isaac, as the climax of the story, I would encourage you to imitate Abraham in his readiness to respond. Day in and day out, we can tell our Father: “Here I am!”

Our fears may tell us that God will demand of us things beyond our strength; that He will exact obedience in ways we do not desire. But the truth is that He desires to test us to open our hearts to receive the fullness of His blessing. At each Mass, we tell God: “Here I am!” God speaks to us in the readings, testing our hearts, to prepare us to receive His greatest gift: Jesus in Holy Communion. 

In what ways do you hide from the voice of the Father? What do you fear He might say or ask of you? How can you venture to say, “Here I am,” and open your heart to receive Jesus? 

2. “…offer him up as a holocaust.”
Holocaust is from Greek, meaning “wholly burnt.” What is offered as holocaust is entirely consumed, destroyed by flame, reduced to ashes. The Father’s request to Abraham seems absurd: the son He Himself provided, to fulfill His promise that Abraham would have a son, is to be offered up as a holocaust. Yet, we know that the Father did not desire Isaac’s actual destruction, but the totality of Abraham’s love.

The true holocaust the Father seeks of you, too, is not anything you have or possess. He already possesses everything. But He asks: “My son, give me your heart” (Pr 23:26). The Father desires a holocaust of love, expressed in obedience to His commands. Yet, we often “hedge” on holding back parts of our hearts – and our love – from the Father. Lent is a time in which He asks of us our hearts, even as He offers us His Heart in the Eucharist, in giving us His own Son.

What parts of your heart do you hesitate to offer? What commandments are difficult to obey? How can you offer your affective love of your human heart as a holocaust?

3. “He who did not spare his own Son.”
What is an amazing paradox of salvation history is that the Father Himself did not spare Jesus. He takes the burden of sacrifice upon Himself, offering us His most precious Son, whom He loves, more than Abraham loved Isaac. We often imagine the Father as demanding and exacting, yet He spares us the heavy weight caused by our sins. The seeming absurdity of the Father’s request to Abraham makes sense only in light of Jesus and the “madness” of His love, even to death. For this reason, Paul can exclaim, boasting with certainty: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

The Father will give us “everything else along with Him.” And the Father renews that gift: He offers His own Son as the holocaust at every Mass and gives Him to us in each Holy Communion. With Him, He gives us the blessing to Abraham, and “everything else.”

What is your image of the Father? How do you experience His merciful generosity? How do you express your gratitude for His offering of His own Son for you in each Mass?

After Holy Communion

1. “… a high mountain apart by themselves.”
Lent is an opportunity to be led by Jesus “apart.” Yet, we are not alone: He leads us with others to be with Him in the moment of Transfiguration. How often we miss the moments of Transfiguration – when the promised Resurrection breaks into daily life – because we do not find time to be “apart” with Jesus. We continue our “humdrum” existence, oblivious to the mystery of divine love that reveals itself as light.

Mass is an opportunity for Transfiguration. The Greek word for Transfiguration – metamorphosis – is the same word used by the Fathers of the Church to describe transubstantiation. Each Eucharistic Prayer, in a sense, is a hidden “Transfiguration,” whereby we witness Jesus, present to us. But we need time and silence to enter the mystery and glimpse the beauty of His love by faith. 

How do you experience the “metamorphosis” of each Mass? How does the Eucharist illuminate “humdrum” daily life with the light of His love?

2. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
The Father does not speak at all in the Gospels, except at the Baptism and Transfiguration. For all He has to say is spoken in His Word, in Jesus. So, He encourages us: “Listen to Him.” Abraham – without the Bible – had the courage to respond, “Here I am!” to the voice of God. We, who have the entire story of salvation history, the teaching of the Church, and more, are called to listen.

Pope Francis recommended that, instead of carrying a cell phone with social media, we could carry a small Bible, or a phone with a digital Bible. We do not need to wait for a booming voice to speak to us from “nowhere.” We have the entire Word, written for us; we have the living Word, spoken to us in the Church. Our task of listening is much easier than that of Abraham. But we must dedicate ourselves to listen.

What distracts your attention throughout Mass and the week from listening to His Word? How can you find pockets of time for silence and reading of the Bible?

3. “As they were coming down from the mountain…”
Peter wanted to remain on the mountaintop, in such a peak experience of Christ’s revelation and glory. But there is yet more to do: the Son of Man must die and rise from the dead. God willing, Mass is a moment set apart, a refreshment for our hearts, amid the burdens of life. But we are sent anew into life, filled with His love.

We, too, must come down from the mountain, to serve and to suffer with Jesus, so as to rise with Him. We receive the Eucharist at the beginning of the week, just as the Apostles witnessed the Transfiguration before the Passion, to strengthen their hearts in faith, that through darkness, they will arrive at light. As you “come down the mountain” of Mass, prepare for Calvary, and remember Tabor.

How can you prepare to “come down” from the consolations of Mass? How can you remember the glory of His love and so push forward, as Jesus did, toward the Resurrection?

Next week: Third Sunday of Lent
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BELH

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A weekly web series by Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, introduces us to the meditations for this Sunday's Mass by the Marian Founder. The goal is to allow Jesus to gaze into your heart and teach you self-examination, leading you to a more fruitful reception of Holy Communion at Sunday Mass, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart – especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival.

A weekly web series by Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, introduces us to the meditations for this Sunday's Mass by the Marian Founder. The goal is to allow Jesus to gaze into your heart and teach you self-examination, leading you to a more fruitful reception of Holy Communion at Sunday Mass, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart – especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival.

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