Are you baptized? Can your baptism lead you through the dryness of Lent? Will your ongoing renewal of your baptism sustain you through the reflective journey of Lent? Will our dry fonts heighten your appreciation of your ongoing baptismal call? Will you miss the waters in our font? Will their absence make you appreciate them more at Easter? Will the dryness of Lent lead you to reNEW more powerfully at Easter?
These are just a few questions that we hope you leave church with this weekend. Please make a special effort to bless yourself with the waters of our font and renew your baptismal call as you leave church this weekend. If you miss church and are reading this sometime after Sunday afternoon, please to come and bless yourself with the waters of our font sometime before Tuesday morning. Please encourage anyone else who was not at Mass this weekend to do the same. As we ALL bless ourselves, as both a commissioning and a recessional at the conclusion of Masses this weekend, we will be making a dramatic statement, namely – “We are in this together.” And the THIS is Lent. As we bless ourselves we are saying, in action and in words, “I AM BAPTIZED.” By doing so we are emphasizing the ONGOING and LIVED experience of our baptism, which most of us experienced when we were confirmed, and through the Holy Spirit ARE confirmed. This Lent in particular let us proclaim and emphasize that we ARE a baptized community living our baptismal commitments every day. These commitments include renouncing evil and expressing our belief in the Trinitarian God, who guides us and the church, which is such a powerful instrument of the Holy Spirit.
I hope that we all take pride in the fact that we were baptized. Look back to the profound sacramental moment when water was poured over us (or we were immersed in), when we were carried to church by parents and godparents, wore a white gown, were given a candle, were anointed with Chrism and the Oil of the Catechumens, and were given a baptismal certificate as a record of the event. These are all important details that should never be forgotten because they started us on a communal journey with the church.
However, I am hoping that you will let the symbols in our church speak to you this Lent and lead you to a deeper and growing appreciation of BEING baptized. Also, I am certain that if we spiritually journey with the dryness of our fonts and express our baptismal commitment by assisting our brothers and sisters in Cuba, we will have a deeper appreciation of our baptismal call when we bless ourselves with the life-giving waters of reNEWal at Easter (at the Vigil on April 15, and Easter Day on April 16) and beyond.
Beginning Tuesday morning the big font in our center aisle will be open but not filled with water. In addition, the four smaller fonts will be drained along with the small holy water fonts at the doors of our church and remain dry until the Easter Vigil. As you come for ashes this Wednesday, it will be hard NOT to notice the empty, dry fonts. During each of the six weeks of Lent there will be a different symbol in the big font, helping us to make various connections with the major themes of Lent. You will also notice pictures that were taken on our recent trip to Cuba displayed throughout the church and in the sanctuary that will tell another story of people who have had the structure of their churches taken away, stripped and fallen into disrepair, but whose faith, similar to the early apostles, has continued to thrive in their small communities and homes. The government has suppressed the institution of the church, but not the God given faith of the people. The structures of the large church buildings have fallen into disrepair but the service-oriented ministry of feeding the hungry, assisting the needy, teaching the young has continued.
Our Lenten Social Justice Project this year will support San Miguel Arcangel (St. Michael the Archangel) in Los Banos in the diocese of Matanzas. We will tell an unfolding story of the church in Cuba and this particular community as the journey of Lent goes by. We will also hold an information night on Tuesday, March 14 at 7:00pm for further information about this unique project. Please consider being generous in your support of this cause, extended to us through our partnership with the Catholic Extension Society which has developed relationships with dioceses in the United States and beyond. Catholic Extension generously reaches out to people in poorer areas who need help in growing ministry efforts that are already in place. The people of Cuba have been heroically carrying out their faith for many years. Our assistance will help them to grow in ways that we may never know.
Lent is a classic time of reflection and it normally takes on a desert theme, rooted in the experience of Jesus being in the desert for forty days and being tempted by the devil. Traditionally the reflective and introspective spiritual path of Lent naturally leads to reNEWal and is triumphantly ritualized in the adult Catechumens being baptized in the font full of water at the Easter Vigil. Each Lent we are asked not simply to pray for them, but to journey with them. This Lent may our Catechumens, our assistance to the Church in Cuba, and the environment of our sacred Holy Family church lead us to reNEW in even more profound ways.
I want to thank the countless people who made our Gala on Saturday so successful. Thanks to all of you who came to the event, to our sponsors, donors, volunteers, staff, and particularly to this year’s chairs, Tim and Andrea Farrell and to Bernie Schaeffer, our Development Director. Your countless hours of work and profound dedication have advanced our ambitious mission tremendously. Thanks a million!!!