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home : opinion : perspectives

2/23/2012 9:01:00 AM
Step forward in faith this Lent
A series of Lenten homily ideas, including this one, are being posted on the diocesan Amazing God website.

She had been caring for her father, who had Alzheimer's disease, for many years - most recently, in her own home. The year before, he had gone on vacation with the family, but was so disoriented that, this year, she enlisted the help of her siblings to stay with him so her family could have a break.

During that week away, prayerfully taking a step back and seeing her day-to-day experiences, she realized that her father's condition had progressed beyond her ability to care for him. She resolved to complete the paperwork that would begin the process for admission to a nursing home.

As she walked from her car into the shop where she would copy these documents, she hesitated. Was it really the right time? Could she rearrange things to make in-home care still possible? Was she letting her dad down?

A passerby caught her attention. "Look," he said, "a rainbow!" The woman looked to the north and saw a rainbow, spanning the distance from heaven to earth. In her heart, she believed it was a sign from God. Comforted, she trusted that she was doing the right thing.

The book of Genesis tells us that God set the bow in the clouds as a reminder of His promise. Generations of believers have continued to see the symbol in this way. The first letter of Peter demonstrates this, as well, and also points to a new sign: baptism, through which people are more deeply united with God, given a new conscience, a new sensitivity to what it means to live righteously by becoming the hands and heart of Christ.

On Feb. 26 at Albany's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion with adults who seek to be baptized as Catholics and Christians of other traditions who desire to deepen their relationship with God by being received into the Catholic Church.

We believe these people have been called by God, nurtured in the development of their faith by family, friends, the Christian community, their sponsors, catechists, pastors and parish life directors. In a culture that is increasingly secular or where expressions of faith are questioned or suppressed, these courageous people are stepping forward.

In the celebration of this rite, their desire to share in the practice of our faith or their commitment to deepen this practice will be examined and affirmed. They will make a covenantal promise - and we will be part of that covenant, because we will promise to support them with our prayer, teaching and lives offered in faith-filled service. We will be a sign to them of what it means to be a Catholic Christian, to be a sign of the heart of Christ.

They are a sign for us, too - a sign that God continues to renew the Church, giving us new life and new faith, if only we are willing to receive it.

Lent began last Wednesday. Many of us received ashes on our foreheads as a sign of our desire to resist temptation, turn away from sin and live by the words of the Gospel. In today's Gospel from Mark, Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness.

What about you? Is your Lenten journey Spirit-driven? How would you like God's Spirit to guide you, to accompany you? Is there something you would like the Spirit to help you see about yourself and perhaps change, so that the heart of Christ may beat more steadily in you?

Jesus faced temptations in His 40 days in the desert. Unlike the other evangelists, Mark is not very descriptive with regard to what these were. He has left the details to our imaginations. We know what it means to be tempted.

What temptations do you face? What draws you away from faithfulness? What prevents you from growing closer to God? What is the grace you need from God to resist temptation? How can God support you in your desire to grow closer to him?

Share your thoughts with God; ask God's help. God has given us signs of his faithfulness. Trust these signs. They will show us the way to go.

(Mrs. Simcoe is diocesan chancellor for pastoral services and director of the diocesan Office of Prayer and Worship.)

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