Last Sunday, a group from our parish accompanied Mechelle, then our catechumen preparing for initation, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Mechelle, with many others across the diocese, continued her journey towards initiation through the celebration of the Rite of Election.
At this second step, on the basis of the testimony of godparents and catechists and of the catechumens’ reaffirmation of their intention, the Church judges their state of readiness and decides on their advancement toward the sacraments of initiation. Thus the Church makes its “election,” that is, the choice of admission of those catechumens who have the dispositions that make them fit to take part, at the next major celebration, in the sacraments of initiation.
(Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 119)
The rite of election was Mechelle’s second step towards initiation into the Church; the first being her acceptance into the catechumenate last year. As the excerpt from the RCIA document suggests, this rite has similar features to others in the journey towards initiation:
- The Word of God is proclaimed. The Word of God is central to the initiation journey. It teaches catechumens in the way of Christ and draws them into deeper conversion.
- The godparents affirm the faith of the catechumens. The godparents and sponsors give witness and testimony to the conversion and commitment of those in their care, answering the questions put forward to them, in this case, by Bishop Manning.
- The assembly pledges its support. The assembly, having listened to the testimony of the godparents and sponsors, commits itself to supporting the catechumens in faith, prayer and example
- The catechumens commit themselves to continuing their faith journey. They accept the bishop’s invitation to enter fully into the life of the Church through sacramental initiation, by their verbal response, and by offering their name to the bishop in the Book of the Elect.
The Bishop, on behalf of the Church in the Diocese of Parramatta, then admits the catechumens to the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. He declares them to be members of the elect; they are no longer catechumens, for that period has ended. Now elected, Mechelle and the other elect in our diocese enter into the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, the intense period of preparation for sacramental initiation.