The Arcana of the Second Sunday in Lent is (11) Strength. It is not the strength of the lion so much as the spiritual power of grace in our lives; the sufficiency thereof and the paradox of divine grace made being perfected in human weakness.
Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AmenBook of Common Prayer
Old Testament Reading
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.Psalm 51: 10-13
New Testament Reading
Great is thy faith: Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.Matthew 15: 28
The 11th Arcana, Strength, picks up the reference to “power” in the collect, and locates the source of our strength not in and of ourselves but in the creation of a right spirit within us, a spirit that nurtures our faith even as the Canaanite woman, whose persistence is rewarded with the blessing,
0 mulìer, magna est fides tua, fiat tibi sicut vis,
and whose possessed daughter, the motive of the Canaanite’s petition, has a right spirit renewed within her from that very hour.
The lion of this arcana represents our lower passions, the Canaanite woman, our higher self, the “right spirit” within us. The Canaanite woman, despised by the Jewish disciples, who, irritated by her cries, want Jesus to send her away. They are ruled by their leonine passions and their tribal consciousness and react accordingly. They, these “lions of Judah” see themselves as higher than this Canaanite dog and treat her accordingly. She, however, treads the way of (9) The Hermit, of which it is said,
the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.Job 28: 8
Cloaked in humility, guided by the light of wisdom and supported by the staff of persistence, she gently controls the lion’s mouth and “her daughter” is made whole.
Scindite corda vestra et non vestimenta vestra et convertamini ad Dominum Deum vestrum.
Virtus in infirmitate perficiturRend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God. Strength is made perfect in weakness.