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Lent, Noah's Ark, and Baptism

Dr. Marcellino D'AmbrosioWhat's Noah's Ark have to Do

with Lent?

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio


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Naoh and the ArkWhen people think of Lent, Noah's Ark is usually not the first thing to pop into their minds.  But there is an essential connection -- and it goes beyond 40 days and 40 nights.

In todayís fuzzy moral landscape, it is quite unpopular to even speak of sin, never mind condemn it. Itís even more politically incorrect to talk about God taking stern action against sin and those who promote it.


But that is exactly what the story of Noah and the flood is all about.. The great flood is a testament to Godís hatred of sin and determination to wipe it from the face of the earth. He of course offers a way to escape the waters of destruction; he instructs Noah to build an ark which carries eight people and a pairs of every animal to safety. With these, he provides the earth and the human race with a new beginning. As a sign of Godís covenant of friendship with the newly recreated world, he places a rainbow in the sky.


From the beginning, Christians have seen in this story a hint of a greater work of God that would come later. The first flood swept away the evil from the surface of the earth, but not from the hearts of the arkís passengers. The Red Sea closing in upon Pharaoh and his armies had much the same limitationĖit did not cleanse the soul of Israel.


So an even greater act of salvation was needed, one that was more radical, that penetrated to the very "root" of evil. God himself enters into our world in the form of a man, and engages in hand to hand combat with the father of lies. First Jesus himself is immersed in the waters, a sign of the destruction of sin, though he himself has no sin. Next he goes into the wilderness to strike at sinís patron.


Noah, the Ark and LentThe wrestling match is won by the Son. This, however, is not the decisive battle. Mark is a gospel of few words and does not note what Luke (4;13) tells us: Satan left him to await another opportunity. That opportunity came later, brokered by Judas, Caiphas, and Pilate. On the cross, the sign of this New Covenant, Jesus decisively vanquished sin and its patron, letting loose from his own pierced side a stream that was more powerful than the ancient waters of Noah and Mosesí day. Through faith and immersion in these mighty waters of baptism, sin can finally be scoured not just from the skin but from the heart, putting to death not men, but the old humanity, separated from God and infected with the disease of disobedience. The first Letter of Peter (3:20) points out something that some might missĖtheir happened to be 8 persons in the ark. Jesus rose from the day after the sabbath, the "eighth day." God created the old world in six days, rested on the seventh, and performed the new creation on the eighth. For this reason, in the early Church, baptisms did not usually take place inside the main church sanctuary. Rather, separate smaller buildings called baptistries were erected next door. It is notably that they were generally octagonal- eight-sided. For baptism means burying the old man with Christ and emerging from the womb of the Church as a new creation, sharing in Christís resurrection.


White Garments of BaptismLent is a time intimately linked with baptism. In the early Church, it was the season that catechumens prepared themselves through prayer and fasting for their paschal journey to the baptistry. The faithful prayed and fasted with them. It was also the time that those who had soiled the white garments of their baptism through sin prepared for reconciliation during the sacred Triduum.


If weíre honest, all of us fall to some degree into that second category. So let us determine-- through prayer, fasting, and giving--to intercede for the catechumens and candidates, and at the same time to scour compromise and luke-warmness from our own hearts. Procrastination and excuses must be put to death. Now is the acceptable time, now the day of salvation.


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This article on Noah's Ark, Lent, and baptism was originally published in Our Sunday Visitor  as a reflection upon the readings for the 1st Sunday in Lent, liturgical cycle B (Gen 9:8-15; Ps 25; I Pet 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15). It is reproduced here with the permission of the author.


For more resources, devotions, and readings for the 40 days of Lent, visit the Crossroads Lenten library.


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The Meaning of the Passion

The Passion of the Christ - The Meaning of the PassionThe Passion of the Christ, the movie and the events it depicts - As we reflect on the Seven Last Words of Christ during Holy Week, we can't help but ask why it had to happen this way?  Wasn't there another way? This talk is a perfect complement to the film and The Guide to the Passion and will help you get the most out of the movie, recently rereleased, and the most out of the season. 



The Early Church Fathers

A society characterized by the violence, loss of respect for life, exotic religious cults, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, and even pedophilia. No, we're not talking about modren times -

The Early Church Fathers succeeded in bringing a Pagan society to Christ. If we pay attention to what they taught, we will succeed in doing the same for our own de-Christianized society!


Album 1: The Apostolic Fathers and Irenaeus

Album 2: The Apologists, Ambrose, and Augustine

Early Church Fathers 2 DVD Setó$49.95

Early Church Fathers 2 CD Setó$18.00



The Virtues: Seven Habits of Champions- DVD
 The Virtues: Seven Habits of Champions- DVD Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio offers a spirited 8-part meditation on the four moral virtues - fortitude, prudence, justice and temperance - as well as the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. This program lays out how God's inspiration for Christian living is accessible to everyone and demonstrated for us through the lives of the saints.



40 Days, 40 Ways40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent

If you're looking for a new Lenten experience, here are forty fresh ideas. Some will challenge you to deepen your prayer life; others will open your mind to new ways to serve others. Each of the forty ways includes a reflection to help you understand more about Lent and why it matters. You'll learn how to have a more creative experience of Lent. You'll discover positive, proactive ways to take action instead of the same old routine. The result will be spiritual transformation and a closer walk with Christónot only during Lent but throughout the year.

Each copy is autographed!

Call for special bulk orders for Lenten Studies!

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