The second in a series of Lenten reflections.
By Sean McCormack
The Catholic Weekly
For the average Catholic, this may be our second, third, or fourth dozen Lent we have endured.
We have maybe started taking church a little more seriously, “given up” things, restrained from eating meat on Fridays, and other out-of-the-ordinary actions during these uncountable 40 days we have been through. Although we may find struggles in breaking the monotony of the Lenten season, we look to our soon-to-be-Catholics for that strength.
For most of us, Easter marks the glorious anticipation of this joyous Lenten season, but for others it brings extra special importance. For at least the past seven months or so men and women have been gathering around the world at their nearby churches to study the truth and life of the Roman Catholic Church across the nation and globe. These individuals have taken initiative to delve into topics ranging from the sacraments, Church history, the moral life, liturgical celebrations, the Eucharist, to the Immaculate Virgin Mary. These men and women are a part of what is called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. This initiation is geared towards preparation and anticipation towards what will be the most important day of their lives; their baptism day on Easter Vigil.
The Church celebrates its most extraordinary day of the year on this Holy Saturday. The celebration is begun in darkness — no light — that symbolizes the illusive defeat of sin and death by truth and life with the crucifixion and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is until the Paschal Candle is lit signifying the resurrection of the Messiah as He pierced the darkness with abundant and everlasting light.
The climax of this celebration is the sacrament of baptism on this holy day. As these prepared men and women are washed with the waters of the baptismal font, the water brings death and life. This water, which will be poured over them, similar to the floods during the time of Noah, will bring death to each of the individual’s life up to that point. At that very instant, all their failings, past persecutions, darkness and sin will be put to death. The same water that washed these evils away will bring resurrecting life of truth, freedom and salvation; just as Jesus was restored to life after His death and burial.
During this time of Lent, we are invited with these men and women to put to death the dark and lifeless areas of our life in order to be restored to new life and true joy. These areas of darkness and sin cloud our soul and obscure the light that Jesus attempts to shine to the world through each of us.
As we reflect throughout this season upon our lives, we ask God to help us make known the areas in our lives which clutter our soul and block from His light shining through us. As we discover these areas in our lives, such as a trespass we have not forgiven, an addiction, or a dishonesty we are withholding from ourselves and God, we ask for the grace for these to be banished from our lives. Through this process, we also are cleansed and baptized with the Holy Spirit, which allows God’s light to shine forth through us as it once did on our first baptism.
We keep these men and women in our hearts and prayers as we prepare for this glorious day for each of them. And with these reflections on our minds and hearts, may we proceed in our Lenten journey in a restored and unified desire.
If I could challenge you to congratulate and share in the joy of a catechumen when you see them. Express joy, support, and gratitude in their journey for that may be the encouragement they need as they are welcomed into our church and a new way of life.
Sean McCormack is a junior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in mathematics to become an elementary school teacher. The 20-year-old son of Jeff and Patty McCormack is from North Branch, where he is a member of SS. Peter and Paul Parish. He most enjoys being with his family, which includes siblings Caitlin, 19, and Danika, 22, and little cousins, playing sports and being outdoors.