The holy season of Lent is upon us. At its core the next several weeks are about two things — Baptism and Penance – and both are intimately connected.
In the Sacrament of Baptism all our sins are washed away, including original sin. Baptism gives each person a clean slate in their relationship with God. Since we humans have a tendency to yield to temptation, we sin. The remedy for that is the grace of the Sacrament of Penance. In making a good, heartfelt, honest confession of my sins, the slate is, once again, wiped clean.
During Lent the Church assists those who have been catechumens to make their final preparations for the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist). For those already baptized, Lent is the season in which the Church invites each person to examine his/her life, acknowledge the place(s) where sin has occurred and then celebrate the Sacrament of Penance by making a good confession. All of these lead to the table of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood, which renews the grace of Christ’s Paschal Mystery over and over for us, especially as the community of faith gathers each Lord’s Day (Sunday).
It all begins this week on Ash Wednesday when those who are already baptized are signed with ashes as a mark of one’s willingness to move away from sin and fully embrace the path of Christ’s Life. On the First Sunday of Lent, catechumens are called to their final weeks of conversion as they become the Elect. Praying for each other and actively supporting one another is necessary over these next several weeks leading to Easter. May God’s grace assist us all in this holy season.