“Water can be your best friend or your worst enemy.” This maxim has been running through my mind like a broken record lately.
It’s been a rainy month. Local rivers have recently exceeded flood stage. Our pond overflowed its dam. And my home’s roof is leaking. But these things pale in comparison to the recent wall of water that brought such devastation and loss of life to Japan following that massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11. It’s almost beyond our ability to fathom.
While my husband and I consider roof repair options and costs, and anxiously count every raindrop that falls, we are thankful to have a roof over our heads. Local farmers are pleased that the water table is recovering after last year’s drought. And my car, which was covered with salt from winter roads, has been returned to its normal color—without my having to take it through a car wash.
So, water can be a friend. It’s needed for life. It’s important for cleaning. Because of these things, it’s a significant symbol of Baptism. But water’s potential to be a cause of death is also a reason it’s a symbol of Baptism. That’s because the Paschal Mystery—defined by Fr. Paul Turner as “the expression we use for the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ, and for our participation in Christ through baptism and death”—includes both death and new life. As we surrender our lives to Christ, we die to our old selves—our lives of sin, selfishness and separation from God—and rise to new life in Christ.
As the Elect prepare to celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil, we join them in reflecting on the meaning of our own Baptisms. Lent is a good time to consider how well we’re living our baptismal promises. It’s a time to focus our lenses and gain a better perspective on our priorities and where God fits in our everyday lives.
Check out a classic video program that shows both the life-giving and death-dealing characteristics of water, “Called By Name.” It’s the story segment on the Catholic Update Video, Adult Baptism: Exploring Its Meaning (D2020). Through four vignettes, interspersed with images from the Easter Vigil, it highlights the truths of the baptismal rite. In addition, look to the March 2010 issue of Every Day Catholic for an exploration of Baptism as the “first sacrament of vocation.”
Most importantly, use this often wet and rainy season of Lent to consider what areas of sinfulness must drown in you in order for the risen Christ to live more fully through you.
Feature photo: savit keawtavee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net