The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
This week’s readings, especially the Old Testament and the Gospel, have a rather interesting relationship. In the reading from Genesis, we hear about the covenant between God and Noah, and Noah’s descendants: God will never again use a flood to destroy all of creation. This promise opens the door for water as a means of salvation through the baptismal waters.
The Gospel, by contrast, has Jesus going into the desert for 40 days. The desert is a place of its own beauty, but with little water, and equally as threatening to life. So, where does this leave us? How do we marry these two readings?
We enter this season of Lent with all of the barrenness of the desert as we see altars devoid of decoration, save for twigs, stones and maybe sand. We avoid singing the Alleluia and the Gloria. Yet, in contrast, we still see the holy water fonts offering blessing as we enter. We see the baptismal font ripe with life-giving water just awaiting those infants, squirming and whimpering, as they feel that water pour over their heads.
Lent is a reminder for us to look into the aridness of our souls and enter a time of reflection and repentance through penance and abstinence. I have often reflected on the effectiveness of observing fasting and abstinence, and yet thinking nothing of eating out at other times. How far have we wandered from those baptismal waters?
Let this be a time to confront behaviors and actions that lead to our own aridness. Let us make an honest effort to find our way to that oasis of refreshing waters that relies on God’s covenant promise to never abandon us.
Finally, this First Sunday of Lent is when parishes give a send-off to RCIA candidates and catechumens who will participate in the Rite of Election where the Bishop David Ricken will welcome them into this 40-day “period of purification and enlightenment,” not unlike Noah and his journey through the abyss of a flood. It is a time of deeper spiritual preparation as they await the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.
Get to know the candidates and catechumens in your parish. As you pray for all of them in our local church, you are praying for your own renewal through this time of arid want which leads us to the rich refreshment of salvation. This covenant that we continue to engage in is worth the effort it takes to keep it going.
Wettstein is a volunteer choir director and former director of music and liturgy at Good Shepherd Parish, Chilton.