Jesus as living water is Finger Lakes parish’s Lenten focus - Catholic Courier
A decorated altar in a church.

The altar at St. Mary Church in Canandaigua is decorated for Lent. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Jesus as living water is Finger Lakes parish’s Lenten focus

St. Benedict Parish is making a splash during this Lenten season.

Like most Catholic parishes, St. Benedict is providing parishioners with a plethora of opportunities to engage in the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The parish’s liturgy committee has gone a step further, however, and has chosen “Jesus: The Living Water” as the Lenten theme at the parish’s two worship sites, St. Mary in Canandaigua and St. Bridget in East Bloomfield.

The theme is intended to help parishioners fully embrace the Lenten season while also learning more about their faith, according to Amy Corron, St. Benedict’s liturgy coordinator.

“Water is so symbolic to our faith, and during Lent, they can focus on the idea of Jesus as the living water,” she explained.

Weekly bulletin articles about related subtopics support the Lenten theme, as do water-related decorations inside the churches. At St. Mary, for example, a pair of multi-level fountains provide a visual and audible reminder that Jesus is the living water, Corron said.

Lenten theme helps parishioners understand Jesus is the living water they need

In recent years, the parish has chosen specific themes to enhance parishioners’ experiences of both the Lenten and Advent seasons, Corron said. The liturgy committee works with St. Benedict’s pastor, Father Michael Costik, to identify the theme well before the season begins.

“Father Michael is always saying at Liturgy Committee meetings we need to have some catechetical pieces. We need to teach people more about our faith and religion,” Corron said.

Through this year’s Lenten theme, Father Costik and the members of St. Benedict’s Liturgy Committee hope to help parishioners understand that Jesus is the living water that we all need in our lives, Corron said.

“This year during Lent, we’re being rejuvenated going toward the resurrection of Christ. The living water is being given to us through Christ, and we can be fulfilled,” she said. “Without water, we can’t survive, and without Jesus, we’re not whole.”

Many parishioners already understand this on some level, Corron noted.

“We just want to help them make the connection more explicitly,” she said.

Christmas, Easter readings inspire parish’s themes for Advent, Lent

Usually the season’s theme will be inspired by a line from one of the readings for Christmas or Easter liturgies, Corron said.

The committee also consults with the head of its liturgical arts committee, Joe Clement, to see whether he has ideas for decorating the church that can tie in with any potential themes, she said. This year, he suggested doing something related to water, as the parish had been decorating with succulent plants and cacti for the last few Lenten seasons and hadn’t used the fountains in a few years, Corron said.

“As a committee we looked at the idea of living water. … There’s so much that you can pull out of the idea of living water,” she said.

One of the liturgy committee’s members, Mike Gallagher, then used software to search for references to water or the term “living water” in the Bible and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The software highlighted references to water in a number of Old Testament passages, including those detailing God’s creation of the world, the great flood and Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, Gallagher said. The software highlighted a number of New Testament references to baptism, he added.

“In the catechism, it brought up the idea of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, specifically as it relates to creation and the spirit of God was hovering over the water, and Noah’s ark and how that’s connected to baptism and the crossing of the Red Sea,” Gallagher said. “Since they were all water-related, and it’s all water that’s kind of moving, it seemed like those topics fit pretty well with the living water theme, and they all ultimately tie to Jesus, who is the living water.”

Parish hopes Lenten theme, weekly bulletin articles will bring parishioners together

The weekly bulletin articles provide information about Scripture references to water, the symbolism of water in the Catholic faith and the ways water is used in the Catholic Church today. The Feb. 18 bulletin article, for example, described the blessing of water that takes place each year during the Easter Vigil.

Liturgy committee members hope these articles will bring parishioners together, Gallagher said.

“It gives them the opportunity to talk to each other about it, because they’re all seeing the same thing, and if they have questions, they can bounce them off each other,” he said.

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