During this time of Lent, our RCIA candidates are preparing to become full members of the Catholic Church. They are called to deepen their faith, draw closer to God through prayer and to question the role faith plays in their lives. Lent provides an opportunity for all of us to examine our hearts in the same way.
Leading up to the Easter Vigil, the candidates are asked to focus on three readings. The woman at the well (Jn 4), the blind man (Jn 9) and the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11).
The first scrutiny focuses on how we, in our own lives, thirst for the Living Water. In John 7:38 Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’ ” This theme is emphasized for a reason, we cannot live without water and Christ, Himself, is the Living Water. We may ask ourselves how we need Christ in our lives. St. Augustine spoke of an innate desire we all possess to know and love Christ. He referenced this when he said, “Late have I loved you,” describing his own sadness at how long it took him to recognize what that thirst was.
Late have I loved you,
O Beauty so ancient and so new,
late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside,
and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
Created things kept me from you;
yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me;
I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
-- Prayer of St. Augustine of Hippo
Have we recognized the longing in our own lives as a thirst for Christ? What other things have we used to fill that desire?
The second, encourages us to look at how we have been brought out of darkness into life. I have a friend who took her two year-old son to the eye doctor. When they put on his glasses, he looked around shocked and said, “Wow!” I picture this when I think of the blind man. What things do I see differently now that I view life through the prism of faith?
The third, reminds us that we have been given new life. My fourteen year-old daughter describes this everyday when she sends me a text. In place of her name on the signature line, she states, “new creation.” How easy it is to forget that depth of that gift of salvation and Christ’s sacrifice for us. He opened the gates of heaven to us, by His death and Resurrection. How do we live out that gift and reflect it in our daily life?
As we go through Lent, we can use these readings to reflect on our own faith and help our students deepen theirs. God bless.