I have a confession to make. I did not make it to the Rite of Election in our Diocese. I had another important family moment to be in attendance for, that of the onset of my daughter’s labour. This has caused me to reflect somewhat deeply – on the interwoven reality of grace and human nature, and the parallels between our major ritual celebrations in the community, and our family reality. My daughter went into labour on that Sunday morning, and with waters having broken, the business of giving birth began in earnest. She was accompanied by her husband, my other daughter, and a team of midwives, expert in their field, giving confidence and reassurance at every step and stage towards birth. It was her journey, and the baby’s journey, but she did not make it alone.
I hardly need to make the comparison, it becomes so obvious. As our precious Elect stood on that Sunday at the Rite of Election, to express their resolve to receive the sacraments of the Church, Diocesan communities across the nation, led by their Bishops, surrounded them with prayer, reassuring them ‘that the entire Church will accompany and lead them to encounter Christ.'(RCIA 108) Just as the woman in labour has her ‘birth plan’, the elect have a plan arranged for the Lenten season – a plan that will benefit them through both its liturgical structure and the participation of the community (RCIA 113). We have a few weeks of intense experience during Lent. During this time, our task as Community, led by the RCIA ‘team’ is to accompany our Elect, and our candidates, with love and encouragement, as they open themselves to the power of the lenten Liturgy and its Gospels, with prayers that uncover and heal weaknesses and vulnerabilities. As in the last stages of labour, they are overwhelmed by the intensity of the experience, and draw heavily on the support of those around…. there is pain, yes, but there is expectant hope and joy, moving towards rebirth in the waters of Baptism ‘the water that I shall give will turn into a spring of eternal life’ (RCIA 125, the Period of Purification and Enlightenment begins!)
5 things we need to do as a parish team:
- stay close to the elect in our care – listen to them, help them with ‘interior reflection’ (RCIA 126)and respond to their concerns/needs
- prepare the liturgies carefully, including the scrutinies and presentations- watch out for later blogs!
- remain aware – in the liturgical catechesis, we are preparing the elect for Baptism
- look at the theme of repentance on the path of conversion to Christ – using those wonderful Gospels of Year A
- Consider the vital importance of the entire community sharing in the ‘midwife’ role, and find ways to enable full participation in the liturgies – we all deepen our encounter with Christ the Saviour (RCIA 126)
By the way… the baby was a boy, born that Sunday morning!
For ourselves and those with whom we travel, blessings on the way!