By Deacon John Degano
Are you ready? Are you set?
Do you have your track shoes on and tied?
Easter’s coming early this year. In fact it’s the end of March. That means Easter Vigil with the baptism of new Catholics into the church, first communions and reconciliations and confirmations rounding out the season and culminating with Pentecost just 50 days after Easter – a.k.a., mid-May.
For clergy, this means being at the center of the whirlwind and being pulled in multiple directions as we prepare for and celebrate the rites and sacraments to the best of our abilities.
As the main catechist of adult confirmation classes in my parish this year, I have roughly ten weeks left to excite my students to live out their faith publicly and to use the gifts they have received from the Holy Spirit to be effective (or more effective) ministers of Jesus’ gospel of love, mission and service.
I remind them that we began our sessions back in September with a renewal of our baptismal promises and that this journey we would be sharing was a pilgrimage into our faith, growing deeper in love with God and with our faith, in community. Before we are done, I told them last week, they should have the tools they need to take my place as catechist (if their giftedness leads them to this conclusion).
They will also be challenged to be ‘faithful citizens,’ to take part in their own state, local or federal governance, through the ballot box, petition, and public or civic service or engagement – to speak out for the poor and the marginalized – and, in a word, to ‘become their own best selves.’ The person God sees in them, that they may not yet see for themselves.
And to be courageous.
That is the message of the sacraments we are celebrating during the season running up to Easter (and even beyond).
To not be fearful. To know that God walks beside us whether we can see him there or not. To know that he calls us to ‘step out in faith,’ to be and build a community of love; and to seek forgiveness and reconcile when we fail or misstep or bruise another one of God’s children in the process of our own conversion.
And somewhere in the chaos (and stress) we need to remember to find time to pray: for ourselves, for those receiving the sacraments, for family and friends, and even for those who have not embraced the faith or have lost the joy that comes with knowing our lord, Jesus Christ.
Invite them to attend these sacred moments, to take courage themselves and maybe the Holy Spirit will be able to enkindle a flame in their hearts that will lead to a conversion of heart.
As the song says, “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going…”
So get going…
And fear not.
John DeGano is a deacon at St. Catherines of Alexandria Parish in Riverside.