Forty days of preparation

By The Beacon | March 7, 2012 9:00pm

Lent represents the final stage of a long journey for some UP students

(-- The Beacon)

By Vinci Halbrook- Paterson, Guest Commentary

Blessed be God who calls us by name.

These are the words of a psalm sung at the Rite of Election Sunday, Feb. 26. Two women and six men have been studying and preparing for initiation into the Catholic Church. They joined a packed house at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception as Bishop Steiner acknowledged their journey, and these final 40 days of preparation known to many as Lent.

Freshmen John Hongel, Cara Rohlfing, Camia Kornowski and sophomore Shane Adam Young will receive all three initiation sacraments: They are now called "The Elect."

4 others, juniors Greg Kang, David Lee, Daniel Rodriguez and Brock Vasconcellos, who were baptized Catholic, will make and receive First Communion and Confirmation on Sunday, March 24 at the 10:30 a.m. Mass.

This past weekend these students and 14 Catholic students preparing for Confirmation travelled to Mt. Angel for retreat. Please keep these students and their journey of faith in your prayers.

The word Lent comes from the Old English word for spring. Here we are in Oregon in the midst of soggy soil, grey days and bare trees. But wait and take another look as you walk across campus. Those branches that look lifeless at first glance do have buds that are formed. Amid the brown mulch there are small green shoots of flower bulbs beginning to sprout.

The tradition of Lent began in the early Church. These 40 days were final preparation for those preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion at the Easter Vigil. So the whole Church walks with them.

The witness and dedication of the incoming members and their sponsors challenge the rest of the Baptized to recommit themselves to Christ and the call to love and serve the Lord and one another. Like the often undetected sprouts on branches, we are asked to slow down and see the growth, change and conversion within ourselves.

During their 40 days of final preparation, we are challenged to deepen our relationship with Christ. We break up our routines by giving up a bad habit, or a food or activity that we enjoy. We are left with an empty space, or empty time or empty stomach. These concrete feelings remind us that only God can fill our deepest needs.

The other tradition is to add specific activities into your life: 10 minutes of prayer per day, attending daily Mass when able, doing service or volunteer projects or attending a bible study. Reach beyond yourself to those who stand in need: the poor, the helpless and the lonely.

Vinci Halbrook-Paterson is the Assistant Director for Faith Formation. She can be reached at