Forty Days in the Wilderness

This weekend is the fourth and fifth day of Lent. How is your Lent going? Perhaps you have not yet decided what you are going to do. How will I pray? How will I fast? How will I give alms? All these activities are a turning the focus away from ourselves and turning towards on our loving Father and his son Jesus, and our love for our brothers and sisters. This is our time to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the great feast of Easter.

This Sunday evening at 6pm Mass we are including a Rite of Election. This is when those who are to be baptised at Easter and to be received into full communion at Easter are called to the sacraments. Normally this happens at the Cathedral but because of Covid restrictions this year it will take place in the parish. The Rite of Elections closes the period of catechumenate proper and marks a period of final, more intense preparation for the sacraments of initiation during which those to be baptised (catechumens) and those who are to received into full communion are encouraged to follow Christ with greater generosity.

This year there are two young people who are to be baptised and two people to be received in the full communion with the Catholic Church. We also have one other who was baptised Catholic has never been confirmed or made their first Communion. We can journey with these catechumens and candidates through our own Lenten practice and at Easter we will renew our own baptismal promises. We too are involved in being purified and being open to the light of the Spirit and come to deepen our relationship with Christ.

In the gospel today, Jesus is led by the Spirit to spend forty days in the wilderness. Here he was prepared, through testing to begin the work of the Father. We cannot go to any lonely place to pray and fast. We have been told to “stay at home and protect the NHS and save lives.” But we can create our own Lenten wilderness. Here we are invited to identify ourselves with Jesus and make a choice for God and gain the devil’s temptations. To be tempted means to being tried and tested like a contestant in the boxing or wrestling ring. Satan is the name given in scripture to the chief enemy of God. Lent is thus the season when we are tested and prepare ourselves to renew our baptismal promises at Easter.

Let us pray for grace and strength as the Spirit leads us to a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest