This morning, at Mass, the question was asked, “What is the sacrament most closely associated with Lent”? Like the majority of the people there, I thought it was the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In these days of ashes and fasting and with the color purple seen in the vestments and decorations, it would seem to be the answer. And so, I was surprised at first to hear the correct answer is Baptism.
Historically, Lent was the time when those entering the Church, known as catechumens, finalized their formation and preparation to be baptized at Easter. For those who had already been baptized, it was a time of preparation to renew their baptismal promises. Both of these things will also happen in churches across the world this year, a beautiful continuation of our faith across the ages.
What a wonderful liturgical season is Lent! Each year we are given the opportunity to grow in our faith and in our knowledge of the unfathomable depth of God’s mercy for us. We ask forgiveness for our sins and cry out to God for mercy. We strive to do penance and to remove those things in our life that prevent us from being fully alive.
As the psalmist proclaims so beautifully, “Your Word, LORD, is spirit and life”. This is a good thought for us to contemplate as we move deeper into our Lenten journey that will lead us to the joy of Easter.