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placeholder Lent

Lent is the annual catechumenate
for all

Lent begins with
Ash Wednesday

Lenten Events

Invitation to a Roman Lent pilgrimage

Jubilee of Mercy

24 Hours for the Lord at the Cathedral

What does the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy mean to me?

Pope's plea: Stop death penalty

Year of Mercy Events

Franciscan Friars elect new leadership


Sister Anne Baxter, OP

Msgr. Fred Bitanga

Sister Margaret Spiller, SNJM


Spirits high in girl's CYO Volleyball Tournament

St. Lawrence
O'Toole student awarded Marty Mart volleyball scholarship

Influence of intelligent evil growing in our culture

KoC conducts formation ceremony in Menlo Park

Vocation dinner nets $10,000

Knights distribute coats to schoolchildren


Centers able to offer personal or private retreats

Rachel's Vineyard retreat step toward post-abortion healing

Lively day of music, song at youth retreat

Bay Area retreat centers


Pilgrimage reveals little known history at Holy Land sites

Pilgrimage reunion

Bishop's Vineyard wines win awards

Ten couples win Voice anniversary drawing

placeholder February 29, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA

Lent is the annual catechumenate for all

Brother John M. Samaha, SM

The restoration of the adult catechumenate (RCIA) by the Second Vatican Council and the return of the Easter Vigil by Pope Pius XII a decade earlier led to the recovery of the baptismal character of Lent.

Correct context

In previous times Lent was about doing without treats, and concentrating on prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

The adjustments of postconciliar renewal have brought the observance of Lent into clearer focus by emphasizing that it is a season of catechumenate for all the baptized, when all review the meaning of putting on Christ by our baptismal consecration, not only those who will be baptized or brought into full communion with the Church at the Easter Vigil.

The Lenten liturgy

The first days of Lent after Ash Wednesday and the following two weeks of Lent suggest a penitential spirit. The prayers and readings of the Masses and Liturgy of the Hours ask us to examine our faithfulness to our Christian commitment. Are we becoming more Christlike?

The tone shifts in the Gospels of the next three Sundays of Lent to reflecting on the meaning of baptism and how well we are imitating Christ: Jesus and the woman at the well; Jesus curing the blind man; Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. They ask how we are responding to Christ's call to partner with him.

These questions remind the already baptized to experience again a new catechumenate and preparation to join with Christ in his redemptive mission.

Today's challenge

In this third millennium Catholics are challenged to confront and correct a culture of secularism that rejects the biblical vision of the human person and human relationships. Not an easy task, but it can be a great adventure when we live in the confidence of the Easter Vigil and realize that love is stronger than death.

The annual catechumenate of Lent prepares us to be missionary disciples of Christ who bring his redemptive grace to others because we have experienced it in our own lives through baptism. Baptism is about going down into death with Christ and being raised up with him in glory. Lent is about dying to self for the life of others, about knowing the deepest meanings of life are found in Jesus. Activating our baptismal grace makes this possible.

(Marianist Brother John Samaha is a retired religious educator who worked for many years in the catechetical department of the Oakland diocese. He now resides in Cupertino.)

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