Throughout the season of Lent, countless people will be engaged in a process of preparation to either receive the sacraments of initiation or to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. They will be accompanied in their preparation by those who are already initiated, who are themselves preparing to renew their baptismal promises at Easter.
The woman before us was frail, lying peacefully, unalert—a shadow of the fierce, intelligent, vivacious woman she had been. Her 95 years on this earth had been lived to the fullest. The years had not been without their trials and sufferings, but they had always been lived for God. With God as her lifesource, Joan radiated light, joy, and love to all whom she encountered. The time had come for God to let his good and faithful servant go in peace.
As a young girl, I always loved the Sundays when a Baptism took place in the context of the Mass. There were many reasons I found Baptisms captivating; for starters, they punctuated our usual Sunday routine with something out of the ordinary. But more than that, I was drawn up into the joy and the excitement of the sacrament. I loved seeing the little babies, water poured over them, oil lathered on their foreheads, their candles lit, the priest saying “________________, in the name of Christ, we welcome you into the Church,” and the choir singing, “Blessed be God, O blessed be God, who calls you by name, holy and chosen one.”