I was very interested to see that Pope Benedict, in his Lent 2011 statement, referred to the baptismal character of Lent - the underlying reality that defines how we should live the season. He said that baptism is a call to develop "the adult stature of Christ."
In our parish, it is customary for our Liturgy Planning Committee to determine a focus for each major liturgical season. Last year, we focused on the baptismal character of Lent, taking an action or symbol for each week from the Rite of Baptism itself and focusing on words from the rite that define our baptismal call:
- WEEK 1: Exorcism/Anointing: "May you have strength in the power of Christ our Savior"
- WEEK 2: Chrism: "As Christ was anointed as Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live..."
- WEEK 3: White Garment: "You have become a new creation. and have clothed yourself in Christ"
- WEEK 4: Lighted Candle: "Receive the light of Christ...This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly"
- WEEK 5: Ephphetha: "May the Lord Jesus... touch your ears to receive his word, and his mouth to proclaim his faith"
This year, we actually developed the same theme the Pope proposed, how we strive to reach that "adult stature of Christ". We decided to continue our reflection on baptism, this time, focusing on the behaviors a mature disciple of Jesus Christ should be developing as defined in paragraph 75 of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
The following is the focus statement that will appear this weekend to assist our community in reflecting more deeply.
As we begin Lent, our focus at St. John’s will be the call we each received at our baptism to be a disciple of Jesus. As we walk with those who will be baptized at Easter on the final weeks of their journey to the font during Lent each year, we are asked to re-examine how we are living up to our own Christian initiation. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) describes the process of growing to maturity as a Christian as becoming a person who turns readily to God in prayer, is a witness to the faith, sets his/her hope in Christ, is inspired to Christ-like deeds, and who practices love of neighbor even at cost to self. The St. John’s Liturgy Planning Committee, a bilingual group of six people who study the readings together to plan our celebrations for upcoming liturgical seasons, has determined that these elements of discipleship will form our focus for Lent this year.
Over the weeks of Lent, we invite you to consider your own call to discipleship. How often and well do you pray? Do you witness to your faith in your family, work and other settings? Are you a person of Christian hope? Are your actions inspired by Christ? Do you love others enough to make sacrifices for them? Please consider using this list in your personal prayer time, or posting it next to your bathroom mirror, so you are reminded each morning to live up to your baptismal call. May our Lenten journey together as a parish community be a time to become more truly disciples of Jesus Christ.