By: Keara Ette
Sunday, February 26, 2017
As we prepare to embark on the journey of Lent – each of us is invited to carve out these next 40 days (ok, at least in Catholic liturgical time it is 40 days) to go to the desert. The desert is a strong image in our scripture and it is, I think, and appropriate image for this season. Every year before Lent, I turn to a poetic text about Lent that comes from my colleague and friend, Bob Kolatorowicz. In the piece entitled, “The Lenten Desert,” he writes:
We, too, need the desert.
And so each year,
Christian people create a desert.
• • •
In the geography of spirit
the desert is a place for keen focus
and hard discernment.
Who is God?
Who am I?
Who is my neighbor?
How shall we live together?
Lent is about reminding us who we are and whose we are. Because, frankly, I find that I often get lost in all the other ‘stuff.’ How well did I perform on that last project? Did my friends get offended that I didn’t attend that last gathering? Should I have made the time to be at that networking event? I really need to start planning ahead when it comes to my finances…
The tools of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are meant to serve us on our Lenten journeys to remember or perhaps discover in new ways our own sacred identities. This year, the Old St. Pat’s Lenten experience also invites us to Repent, Repair, Renew. What actions or attitudes in our lives call for repentance? What in our relationships or our communities is in need of repairing? What in our world or in our souls is in need of renewal?
Another gift offered to the members of the church during the Lenten Season is the gift of new life in the form of those who have been called to initiation in the Catholic Church. These men and women have chosen to work through the struggles, the questions, the skepticism, and the frustrations of a mysterious journey with openness to the urging and prodding of the Holy Spirit. They have engaged in conversations that hold up their experiences, the wisdom of the tradition, and the questions of our time – all in the hope of coming to know God and know themselves more deeply.
This Lent, twenty-seven of these men and women candidates and catechumens will be a mirror for us at Old St. Pat’s, reminding us of who we are as well: pilgrims on a journey. The time, prayerfulness, energy, and effort they have put into their learning and discernment are an inspiration to the rest of us to similarly engage and reengage in the life of the Spirit, in the context of community. Our RCIA community will stand before Cardinal Cupich this Sunday, revealing their desire to enter into the Catholic Community of faith. And the Cardinal Archbishop, on behalf of the universal church, will elect them to the Sacraments of Initiation and invite them into a final period of preparation and prayer. For them, and for us, Lent is the invitation to carve out time for the desert.
The long tradition of Christian wisdom tells us
that in the desert,
if we pay attention to the essentials,
we can learn to live.
Loving God, help each of us to use this Lent to learn to live; to use the tools of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to remember who we are; and to do the hard work of repentance for our wrongs, repairing what is broken, and renewing our relationships with the help of the Risen Christ. Guide our steps, strengthen our resolve, grant us your mercy, and walk with us through the desert, for we know your greatest desire is for us to live into our identities as your beloved ones.