Lent is early this year, but I dont have to tell you
that. It probably seems you just pulled out the green cloths for your catechists and
put away the Christmas wreaths. Now its time to dig out the purple and put away the
Ash Wednesday is just a day or two away. Ahead are 40 days of
celebrating a season set aside for renewal and conversiona season that brings with it
its own traditional customs and devotions. For a new look at some of those old customs check
out Fr. Lawrence Micks Catholic Update
, Lenten Customs: Baptism Is the Key.
Fr. Mick begins his article with this sentence: The key to
understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism. He goes on to talk about
everything from ashes to blessed palms, relating all of these traditions and devotions to
the Sacrament of Baptism. For example, under Scrutinies and Penance Fr. Mick
Lent is the primary time for celebrating the sacrament of Penance, because Lent
is the season for baptismal preparation and baptismal renewal. Early Christian
teachers called this sacrament second baptism, because it is intended to enable
us to start again to live the baptismal life in its fullness.
I also liked what Fr. Mick had to say about the Stations of the
Cross. He tells us, While this devotion certainly has a place in
Lent, the overemphasis given to it in the past tended to distort the meaning of the
the impression was given that Lent was primarily about commemorating the
passion and death of Christ.
He goes on to remind us that the liturgy never focuses on the death
of Christ without recalling his resurrection. He suggests always adding a 15th station
to recall this central truth. He also talks about the importance of linking Jesus
first-century suffering to the suffering in the world today. (If you would like to read
the whole article and find out some other interesting information to share with the
folks in your parish concerning Lenten traditions and Baptism, click here
If you are looking for additional Lenten resources for small group
discussions, individual reading or additional content for your parish Web site, consider
St. Anthony Messenger Presss Web site, AmericanCatholic.org
. It offers quick and
reliable information on just about any Catholic topic. Several Catholic theology
professors have told me it is a favored Catholic reference site they suggest to
their students. And its free.
When we decided to make Baptism the topic of
Februarys Faith Formation Update, I did what I usually do: I went to our Web site.
I typed in Baptism and Lent in the top right corner (in the spot
under St. Anthony Help Me Find
Search for Articles). Up popped a list of
Catholic Updates, other newsletters and St. Anthony Messenger articles
that discuss both topics. I chose the first on the list, and after one more click
of my computer, Fr. Micks whole Update was on my screen.
To get my own personal copy of Fr. Micks March 2002
Catholic Update, I simply walked downstairs to our stockroom and pulled one from the shelf. If you would like to have this past issue resource
in hand or order it for your catechists or parish, you can do that online, too. At the end
of the article you are able to click to our online catalog and order it from there.
Happy Lent. May you find time to renew and re-energize
in the busy, holy days ahead.