Initiation is Our Job

Carmel Bulletin, 30 March 2014

We continue to celebrate the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults throughout Lent with the scrutinies that lead to the initiation of Rodger, Sally, Leoni and Domonic at the Easter Vigil.  Like any liturgical rite, there are a variety of ministerial roles that must be fulfilled to ensure its proper celebration.

In naming and commenting on the various ministerial roles in the Christian Initiation of Adults, you might expect that the priest or the bishop might be considered first.  In fact, the introduction to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) starts elsewhere, stating that:

… the people of God, as represented by the local Church, should understand and show by their concern that the initiation of adults is the responsibility of all the baptised.  Therefore the community must always be fully prepared in the pursuit of its apostolic vocation to give help to those who are searching for Christ.  (article 9)

Just as the people of God in Moses' time were led by a pillar of fire, a true contemplative today can be guided interiorly as if by a strong sweet fire. It teaches and consoles in just the way that Christ does.Through the RCIA, adults are initiated into the Church – a Church which is not merely a building or an institution, but a community of people bound together by their faith.  We share in the responsibility of leading and welcoming people into our faith community.  Christ’s command at his ascension to “make disciples of all the nations” is not one that is entrusted to a select few to carry out, but to all of us.  We are the disciples of today, who must entrust this same mission on to those who will be the disciples of tomorrow.

What’s more, it’s not enough to simply hope it will happen, or assume that by our implicit support of the need to call and form disciples that we’re doing enough.  We need to be deliberate and purposeful in our “[giving] help to those who are searching for Christ.”  As we also consider how we as a parish implement the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, we will find that this is essential to achieving the goals to Grow in Faith and to Share Our Faith.

 

Image Credit: Just as the people of God in Moses’ time were led by a pillar of fire, a true contemplative today can be guided interiorly as if by a strong sweet fire. It teaches and consoles in just the way that Christ does.  Elizabeth Wang, from Radiant Lightcode T-04296-CW.

27/1/08 – God Calling People to Conversion

In less than two weeks’ time, we enter once again into the season of Lent.  We typically think of Lent as a season of penance.  Yet it is firstly the season when we focus on the preparation of those seeking Christian Initiation.  Those of us already baptised engage in penitential practices so that we may join in solidarity with those preparing for the Easter sacraments.

Our parish’s catechumen, Michelle, will next weekend sign her name in the book of the elect, ready to be presented to the bishop at the Rite of Election.  She is undertaking the journey towards Christian initiation.  In the coming months, our young parishioners will continue their journey through Christian initiation through the sacraments of Confirmation and Communion.  So what is this journey that they are taking?

The journey of Christian initiation is one of God calling people to conversion.  It’s usually not an amazing, sudden revelation-kind of moment.  It’s a gradual process that takes time.  Time for people to listen to God speaking to them in their lives.  Time for God to be present to them through the love, example and witness of others.

That gradual process of conversion then begins to take shape within the context of a faith community, as it is now with Michelle.  The deepening relationship with God is more willingly expressed, and the community celebrates the continuing journey.  Rituals such as the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, the Rite of Election, or the children’s commitment to prepare for First Communion are all such examples.

The completion of Christian initiation won’t be the end of their journey of conversion, though.  Those who are initiated will join us completely in taking the journey together; facing the struggles, challenges, love and joy of belonging to God’s chosen people.

So the essence of Christian initiation, penance, and the Season of Lent are one in the same: God calling people to conversion.  Let that be our centre throughout the coming weeks.