This week, as part of the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, we celebrate with Mechelle the first of three scrutinies at our Vigil Mass.
The scrutinies, which are solemnly celebrated on Sundays and are reinforced by an exorcism, are rites for self-searching and repentance and have above all a spiritual purpose. The scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong and good…(Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 141)
Talk of scrutinies and exorcisms can be unfamiliar and even daunting to some people; those who have not experienced them may think them to be the stuff of horror movie scripts. But such is not the case.
As the quote from the RCIA states above, the scrutiny gives ritual expression to what this Lenten period of purification and enlightenment is all about. For the elect, it is a period of retreat, of the kind of self-searching that Jesus undertook whilst in the desert. We hope, and we pray that Mechelle and all the elect in other parishes may be strengthened in their faith and their resolve to be initiated into the Catholic Church.
The prayer of exorcism, which follows the intercessions for the elect in the scrutiny, calls on God to free the elect from sin and to guide them in the path of goodness, honesty, integrity and peace. In this time of commitment to following in the way of Christ, we pray that the elect may turn way from those things that are not of Christ.
The prayer texts are closely related to the gospel readings for each week. These gospels bear important baptismal themes as we approach Easter. This week, Jesus promises the Samaritan woman the gift of life-giving water which will quench her thirst for all time to come.
Take a look at the Journey in Faith notice board in the Parish Centre today and take a card. Pray for Mechelle as she approaches her Christian Initiation.