In Grand Canyon National Park there are signs everywhere reminding visitors to drink water. At times it seems almost comical how many signs there are since the park is a desert. Doesn’t everyone know the first rule about going into a desert is you need water? That is obvious. Well, as human beings we tend to forget the obvious. One group of people who forgot the obvious in a desert were the Israelites. A loving God performed miraculous signs before their eyes, freed them from slavery in Egypt, gave them water from a rock, and fed them bread from heaven, yet they still decided to worship other gods and failed to trust God.
Lent is about journeying into the desert. As parish leaders we are about to journey into the desert with our flocks. We are at risk of forgetting the obvious: water. This water is our relationship with Jesus, particularly in prayer and the sacraments. We can be tempted as leaders to give, give, give, but Jesus reminded his apostles, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). If we do not make time for prayer where we have a personal conversation with God in our day we are essentially saying, though probably not explicitly thinking: “I can do this without you, Jesus. I don’t need water in the desert.” This is a lie. We must renew ourselves inwardly so we can be refreshed to proclaim Christ outwardly.
We cannot afford to be thirsty because our flock is thirsty. Nobody traveling in the desert wants a thirsty guide. They want someone who can tell them where the water is. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says:
“In the desert people of faith are needed who, by the example of their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 86)
In the words of Pope Francis, “we are called to be living sources of water from which others can drink” (Evangelii Gaudium, 86). Lent is a great time to check in with how our prayer life is going and make commitments to tap or re-tap into the source of Living Water, Jesus.
Devote your commute, work-out, or housekeeping tasks to Christ by praying through them or listening to an audio talk. We recommend these for you as you enter into Lent:
We must then be committed to leading those in our parishes to the same source of water. There is no denying those in the pews are thirsty. Here are some ways you can promote FORMED tailored to specific thirsts those coming to Mass on Ash Wednesday likely experience:
1. Thirst for Relationship. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can fully satisfy the human heart. However, many Catholics have not experienced this relationship because they do not know how to pray deeply. Promote Into the Desert: a Lenten Study on Prayer with our ready-made resources. Invite parishioners into relationship with others by hosting a weekly parish dinner where you show an episode of Into the Desert and provide time for people to eat, mingle, and discuss afterwards.
2. Thirst for Meaning. Practicing our faith fully brings great meaning to our lives. Why do we even have Lent? How do I make Lent a meaningful part of my life? Encourage parishioners to sign up for Lenten Reflections to receive daily emails with video reflections by Dr. Tim Gray. Share this opportunity with a flyer or bulletin ad! Also available in Spanish.
3. Thirst for Authentic Witness. Catholics thirst for examples of authentic holy lives and for genuine family time. What better way to quench that thirst than by getting inspiration from the saints together? Spotlight a movie on a saint’s life and recommend it as a family movie night.
4. Thirst for Answers. Many are distant from the Church because they have a question that was never sufficiently answered. Content on FORMED could have the answer! Hand out bookmarks, postcards, or flyers with information on how to register for a free FORMED account.
May you and those you serve drink deeply this Lent!