Last week we looked at how Lent and Sacramental Initiation are centred on God calling people to conversion. This is why the season of Lent and the final preparation for sacramental initiation are so closely aligned.
Our catechumen, Michelle, is moving closer to this final preparation for Easter and the Sacraments of Initiation. This weekend, at the Vigil Mass, we celebrate the Rite of Sending of the Catechumens for Election. While this is strictly an optional rite, it is one well worth celebrating.
The Rite of Election, which this weekend’s rite prepares for, is a diocesan celebration at the cathedral with the bishop. When Michelle returns from this to our parish community, she will have become a member of the elect, that is, one of those “elected” or chosen to celebrate sacramental initiation at the upcoming Easter Vigil. She will have begun the Period of Purification and Enlightenment; the most intense preparation for initiation. The period of the catechumenate, where Michelle is gradually formed in the ways of the Church along her journey of conversion, will be over.
The Rite of Sending of the Catechumens for Election, therefore, gives us, the parish community a greater opportunity to participate in Michelle’s election. She declares her intention to join the Catholic Church. We send her forward with our support and blessing to the cathedral, where she will declare her intention to the bishop and the wider Church of the Diocese of Parramatta. She will write her name in the book of the elect, which Bishop Manning will sign. The book reminds us that God calls us each by name.
So the Rite of Sending gives the parish greater ritual involvement in the election of its catechumens. Do not forget, however, that the Rite of Election is a diocesan celebration. All of us as part of this diocese can and should take part. I therefore invite you as well to consider joining us for the Rite of Election at St. Patrick’s Cathedral next Sunday, 10 February at 2:00 p.m.