By Maria G. Covarrubias
We are at the beginning of a New Year. We have experienced a bitter presidential election and some are experiencing anxiety about the future under this new leadership, while others welcome it. But we are people of hope! Many signs of life and hope are around us.
One of these signs is the rain we have been getting throughout the state after several years of drought. As I was driving one rainy day looking at the drops dancing on the windshield, I thought of the Catechist Summer Institute two years ago, where one of the nights as a prayer, we did a procession to ask for rain and asked all the catechists present to utilize this Catholic tradition to plead for rain in their catechetical sessions. As a diocese, we also had a prayer for rain recited at all the parishes. The plea is being answered. God in his infinite mercy has given us the rain we needed desperately.
Another sign of God’s mercy and grace is that we ended the Christmas season with the Baptism of the Lord; a key point that marks, in a way, the beginning of the final stage of the immediate preparation of those who are preparing to receive the Sacraments in the months to come. In a few weeks, the Rites of Election will take place on the first weekend of Lent. This Rite welcomes thousands of adults and children to their final preparation to receive Christian Initiation in the Easter Vigil celebration. Then, the Youth and Adult Confirmation and First Communion celebrations will take place during the months of April, May and June in most of our parishes around the Diocese.
With the reception of these Sacraments, the outpouring of God’s grace comes upon those who will be receiving them, but also on their families and on the whole church. This grace renews the Church and transforms lives. With these celebrations of our faith, we take a step forward in our journey to holiness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1116 explains, Sacraments are “powers that comes forth” from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in His Body, the Church. They are “the masterworks of God” in the new and everlasting covenant.
We are all being touched by the continuous mercy of God. At the end of January, my own granddaughter, Isabella, received the Sacrament of Reconciliation in preparation for her First Communion in May. What a joyous day of many blessings for her, for our family and for the Church! In a couple of months my new granddaughter Sophia will be born. Her parents are already preparing for the celebration of her baptism.
Isaiah 43:19 says, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Yes, there are many things that worry us and disappoint us, but let us not lose sight of the marvelous signs of God’s mercy and love around us. Let’s trust and hope in the Lord with all our minds and hearts. Mercy lives!
How do I feel to know that I partake in the blessings God sends forth to all those who receive Sacraments?
The Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are Sacraments that I can receive over and over. Am I fully participating in these generous opportunities of grace? If not, what is keeping me away?
Maria G. Covarrubias is director of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.