Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent: A time to grow

Lent may be a time for penance but it is also an opportunity for growth.  These six weeks to prepare ourselves for Easter can be some of the most spiritually powerful moments of a believer's life. 

To face our limitations, our weaknesses and even our sinfulness is part of facing the truth of our humanity.   Once we can recognize this, we are able to present it to Christ for his forgiveness, healing and restoration.   This is conversation:   to face our sin and turn away from it as we turn towards Christ.   The more we surrender our pride, our control, and our self-centeredness to the Lord, the more of His love, mercy and joy enters our heart.   Lent is a dying to sin and a rising to life.   Lent is remembering that despair is stupid in the reality of hope in Christ.   It is remembering that not even death has a sting when it has been conquered in the resurrection of Christ. 

"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers (and sisters) be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."
 ( 1 Cor. 15: 56 - 58).
Signing the Book of the Elect at JP II

Among one of the most exciting things in Lent is walking with those who will join the church this Easter.   The RCIA/RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and Rite of Christian Initiation for Children) members took another step last week when they signed the book of Initiation and this Saturday and Sunday they will be enrolled as one of the Elect by Bishop Stika.  Now this language may be confusing to some.   Basically following an early church tradition anyone over the age of eight who has not yet been baptized receives the sacraments initiation--baptism, confirmation and communion-- at the Easter Vigil (Saturday night before Easter).  Once a person receives these sacraments they are proclaiming themselves a disciple of Jesus and will honor and worship Him according to the Catholic Way of the Spiritual Life.  A baptized person is not just a friend of Jesus but an actually sister or brother of Christ.   How cool is that!!!
Our Spanish Speaking Family in the RCIC at JP II

At Blessed John Paul II we have one adult seeking communion and confirmation and three children seeking all three sacraments with their younger brother being baptized.  The sponsor of the adult was our first convert three years ago.  At Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we have 4 adults and 6 children seeking all three sacraments and 1 adult seeking communion and confirmation plus three children for baptism and another adult for confirmation only.   This will be the largest group in our three years here. What a blessing these folks are to our faith community!!

BTC catechumens, candidates and sponsors
Almost every Sunday there will be prayers just for them.   The rest of the community has the responsibility to demonstrate the life of a believer in Christ.   Thus in Lent each of us are invited by Christ to become more merciful and loving disciples.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we  may find the spiritual opportunities to rise above our sinfulness and shine in our salvation.  We might just be the gateway of grace for another to discover salvation through Jesus Christ.

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