It's Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Church's 40-days of inventory, reflection, and commitment, if you will, to Christ's passion and sacrifice. The path to redemption, the humiliation of the human God, the glorious climax of the divine man.
We can "put out into the deep" during this time and find that there is something we should be doing as fellow Catholics in our communities.
During Lent, something is happening that most garden-variety Catholics wouldn't even have on their radar-screen. A small budding seed that grew somewhere quietly is being fed, nurtured, and mentored right in their own backyard. As with most Catholics attending Mass on Sundays, they only see this garden's growth with the calling of the names during Lent, the special blessings and sending forth prior to communion. Maybe even then, it is just an added attraction that extends the Mass as does an occasional baptism. But, there is more to this and each and every Catholic sitting in the pews has a part in this process.
The RCIA program is not just for newcomers, it is meant for all Catholics. Like planting a garden, the selection of the seeds, their needs of sunlight, water, good soil are important for a successful harvest. Careful planning of what, when, and how to plant the seeds; even preserving the new seeds for the next season are considered. Preparation is key to this process and without help from family members, friends, it would be a lonely and even daunting job.
As with a spring garden, those in the RCIA programs in your parish are experiencing new growth, too. They are studying, being nurtured, taking classes, and they need our prayers. During Lent, they are coming to the end of their journey into the Catholic Church. The goal, in sight, is a celebration that takes preparation. How they got here, what brought them to this place and who will help them during and after they arrive is Catholic-based. The seed has come to the surface, desiring more sunlight, water, and fertile soil to continue to grow and blossom.
Get out your watering cans, put your garden gloves on, and see where you can be a part of this for someone. Yes, pray for them, smile at them, and speak to them encouraging words. Be a welcoming face in the new community that they so desire to be a part of.
This is what Lent is all about, yes get rid of the candy for 40 days, stop snacking for a few weeks, pray the rosary and stations of the Cross, most definitely! But, remember the newcomers, remember them spiritually, physically, and be a support for them during your Lenten journey this year. This is a level far deeper than giving up candy.