I am an Easter baby. Born within the Octave of Easter, my birthday always dances around the muddy and damp end of Lent, and Easter’s pledge of warmth and light. Some years it fell on Good Friday, a dry and dim day. A situation made all the more penitential when I was young by the fact that a brother’s birthday falls two days later; he would be feted with roast lamb when I had picked at tuna casserole.
More often my birthday comes when the fullness of the Easter season has arrived, the celebration of our new birth undergirding my own celebration of growth. So these last weeks of Lent always sing to me of waiting to be born and to be born anew. They are rife with promise and with promises.
When I was eight days old, on the third Sunday of Easter, my mother and grandmother dressed me in yards of white lawn — the photo is still on my desk — and consigned me to my father’s arms to take me to Holy Name of Jesus to be baptized. No one asked me what I professed to believe that Eastertide day. My father and godparents made the responses I was not yet able to form. It was, I now realize, an act of tremendous hope and faith. What they desired for me so ardently, I too, would desire.
On the first Sunday of Lent this year, I went to the 9:30 a.m. Mass, where the candidates for baptism and reception into the Church at Easter were being presented. As the youngest stood before the assembly, the presider asked his godmother if he were prepared to enter the Church.
I sometimes wonder what I would have said, if I came to the faith as an adult. As the questions and responses came and went, I too wondered what someone would say of me? Should I have come to the faith as an adult? When I got home from Mass, I pulled out my copy of the Rite of Election to find the text:
“Has she faithfully listened to God’s word proclaimed by the Church?”
“Has she responded to that word and begun to walk in God’s presence?”
“Has she shared the company of her Christian brothers and sisters and joined with them in prayer?”
Well, what evidence would others see that I have done these things? What does God see? It is a hard series of questions to contemplate, but one that I am finding surprisingly fruitful. Reflecting on each of these questions in turn is more firmly shaping this Lent for me as a time to renew and bring to birth once again what was promised for me so many years ago.
In these last weeks of Lent, consider taking up each of these questions in quiet conversation with God, who is Truth and Light. What threads of hope and faith does God observe in your life? Where might you bind yourself more closely to the Way that is Jesus Christ?
God has chosen us, each of us, with our strengths and weaknesses to be one of the elect; to be His for all time. Let us once again listen with faith and respond in joy when we renew the promises of our baptism at Easter.