Today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord concludes the liturgical Christmas season. Like the epiphany of the Lord to the Magi, this feast celebrates the manifestation of Jesus as God’s Son. Revealed by a star at his birth, today the heavens open, the Spirit descends in visible form and the Father’s voice is heard. The whole Trinity is manifest in the event of Jesus’ baptism: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is in the name of this Triune God that each of us has been baptized – something we recall each time we sign ourselves with holy water upon entering the church. Jesus’ baptism points us towards our own baptismal identity as God’s beloved sons and daughters by adoption.
In a few short weeks we will begin the season of Lent. (Ash Wednesday is February 10.) The Feast of the Lord’s Baptism is not too early to start thinking about how you and I will keep Lent. Lent is all about preparing to renew our baptismal covenant at Easter. The prayer and penance we take on during Lent is meant to help us live more deeply the life of grace initiated at our baptism. In other words Lent invites us to ask whether we are truly living as a beloved son/daughter of God, redeemed by the suffering and death of Jesus. Lent highlights the perennial challenge of Jesus to “put out into the deep water” in terms of living our faith. (Cf. Luke 5:4.)
I’d encourage you to consider keeping Lent this year by joining us for the Alpha Course which begins January 25 at St. Charles and January 26 at St. Peter. Each evening begins with a meal at 6:00 p.m. followed by a presentation and discussion. Over the course of 10 weeks and a weekend retreat participants come to know Jesus in a more deeply personal way. Alpha has been a deeply spiritual encounter for many people. It has helped folks come to know Jesus for the first time. And it has helped rejuvenate the faith life of cradle Catholics. Running the Alpha Course on two nights, at both parish locations, we hope to get as many as possible to participate.
We are in the midst of a special Holy Year of Mercy – an important moment of grace in the life of the Church. Participating in the Alpha Course may be the way the Lord wants to extend his merciful love to you in this Holy Year. But you’ll never know until you “come and see.” Join us on the 25 or 26. If you like what you see and hear, keep coming back. It’s that simple. Visit us online at www.chippewafallsfaithformation.net/alpha.
As the Christmas season comes to an end, Fr. Charlie and I would like to thank you all for the many cards, gifts, and expressions of gratitude. It is all deeply appreciated! Please be assured of our prayers for you and your inten- tions in this New Year.