Sunday, the Third of Lent: Scrutiny I

     Why is a Rite of the Church termed scrutiny? This week’s reflection focuses on the characteristic Lenten liturgies for the Elect.
     I recently asked a group of undergraduate students what struck them when they heard the word scrutiny. They did not have good things to say. Common among many of their responses was the image of being ‘put under the magnifying glass.’ All of one’s actions are looked at intensely and it did not stop there. Many commented that scrutiny suggests examining motives and reasons for a particular thought, word or deed. One student commented, “I don’t know why I say or do many of the things I do and I certainly don’t want someone looking over my shoulder giving me reasons for my thoughts or actions.”
    Linguists suggest that two Latin words ground the English meaning of the word scrutiny: scrutari and scruta. Some ‘searching’ in musty lexicons of antiquity suggest that scrutari consists of ‘investigating’ or ‘examining.’ Scruta, as it appears in that same yellow-paged volume, can mean ‘broken items’ or ‘stuff to be trashed.’ Together, scrutari and scruta offer us insight into what the Liturgical Rite termed Scrutiny is all about. One might look at the Church’s Scrutinies as ‘investigating or examining the stuff of our lives that needs to be trashed.’

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