The liturgical rite coming up this weekend has a two-fold name:

  • It is called election because the acceptance made by the Church is founded on the election by God, in whose name the Church acts. From this day onward, the catechumens will be called the elect, the chosen ones. And here you are more than justified to be thinking of the election of the Israelites whose choice by God had nothing to do with their merit and everything to do with God’s love. Or of Jesus being the “Chosen One of God” as it resounds at his Baptism or Transfiguration most vividly, yet with some undertones of the Suffering Servant from Isaiah. Or of the disciples being chosen by Jesus – not the other way round – and each called by name…
  • It is also called the enrollment of names because as a pledge of fidelity the candidates inscribe their names in the book that lists those who have been chosen for initiation. And here you will be justified in remembering the large “cloud of witnesses” who have been putting their lives at stake by “signing up” for Christ since the dawn of Christianity until present times.

    Signing the Book of the Elect

This public step closes the period of catechumenate, which itself is a lengthy period of formation of the catechumens’ minds and hearts, and opens the period of purification and enlightenment. Therefore the celebration of election traditionally coincides with the opening of Lent. The structure and focus of the Lenten season benefits the elect both by its liturgies and by the participation of the community. It marks the beginning of the period of final, more intense preparation for the sacraments of initiation. The focus here is on following Christ with greater generosity

Although this all sounds quite sober and penitential, in my experience, this event is full of life, joy and anticipation. It highlights the presence of the Holy Spirit within the Church and the need for each one of us to take steps so that we can grow, supported by one another.

This weekend we will also encounter those who have been baptised, but have not yet receive the rest of the sacraments of initiation (Confirmation and/or Holy Communion). These are not the catechumens, but the candidates. Their part of the celebration at the Rite of Election is labeled:

  • The Call to Continuing Conversion

Since we take any valid Baptism seriously, we are reminded that it urges the baptised candidates to a deeper union with Christ and to a  more faithful living of the Gospel. In this respect, all the baptised Christians are encouraged to inspire to the same depth of union and faithfulness in following – which means that we can all benefit from this ceremony very personally. I hope we will…

Perhaps as a response to this post, you may want to share how the Rite has gone for you this weekend!