On Sunday next, 1st Sunday of Lent, our catechumens and candidates from across the Diocese will gather in the Cathedral, and be presented to our Bishop with the words :
‘They have found strength in God’s grace, and support in our community’s prayers and example. Now they ask that after the celebration of the scrutinies, they be allowed to participate in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the eucharist’.
Those who have journeyed with them to this point find them ‘to be sincere in their desire. They have listened to the word of Christ,and endeavoured to follow his commands; they have shared the company of their Christian brothers and sisters and joined with them in prayer’, and so the Bishop announces to all present ‘that our community has decided to call them to the sacraments’, and then once again, he seeks the opinions of the godparents:
‘As God is your witness, do you consider these candidates worthy to be admitted to the sacraments of Christian initiation?’
‘Have they faithfully listened to God’s word proclaimed by the Church?’
Have they responded to that word and begun to walk in God’s presence?
Have they shared the company of their Christian brothers and sisters and joined with them in prayer?
And then speakly directly to the catechumens, the Bishop invites them to ‘express your response clearly and in the presence of the whole Church’, after which they are declared ‘members of the elect’. The whole Church are charged with acceptance of these ‘chosen of the Lord’, and asked to continue to sustain them through ‘loving care and example’
Quite a responsibility. Are we ready?
Lent is offered as a gift for the healing, encouragement and renewal of all – the catechumens, candidates, both adults and children, and the whole community:
- to grow in love
- to overcome hesitations and trust in Christ
- to find joy in daily prayer and reflection on the scriptures
- to acknowledge faults and work to correct them
- to share with others the joy found in faith.
In other words, as described in the Rite (RCIA 125-126) it is more about interior reflection than catechetical instruction – a time intended to purify and enlighten minds and hearts through a deeper knowledge and experience of Christ. So let go of anxiety about ‘have we given them enough doctrine’/’do they know enough’ – after all, the Rite of Election reminds us very firmly that this is a process of initiation – and relax, and allow lent to be the time of ‘retreat’ and deepening of relationship with Christ.
A friend offered me this Lenten Prayer which may help us to get the focus for Lent right!
Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling within them. Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life. Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the realityof light. Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify. Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude. Fast from anger; feast on patience. Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism. Fast from worry; feast on trust. Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation. Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives; fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer. Gentle God, during the season of feasting and fasting, gift us with Your Presence, so we can be gift to others in carrying out your work. Amen.