Wednesday, July 17, 2024

‘Your Witness Challenges Us:’ Rite of Election Recognizes 135 Catechumens Who Will Receive Sacraments of Initiation at Easter

In a culture where talk of secularization and the absence of God seems to be the norm, the witness of 135 individuals in the Diocese who will receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist is a reminder that the Holy Spirit is very much alive and working in the Church, Bishop Timothy Senior told the catechumens at this year’s Rite of Election.

Celebrated annually on the first Sunday of Lent, the Rite of Election recognizes the maturing conversion and growth of commitment in the men, women and young people who will enter the Catholic Church at Easter. The Rite of Election is a significant step in the process of Christian initiation as the elect demonstrate their preparedness to make a lifelong commitment to God.

“We are inspired by your yes, by your openness to allow the Spirit to draw you into this journey,” Bishop Senior told the catechumens – representing 39 parishes – who gathered at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg on Sunday, February 18, along with their pastors, catechists, godparents, sponsors and family members. The occasion was the bishop’s first-ever celebration of the Rite of Election.

During the Rite, the names of those who will enter the Church – known as the “elect” – are read aloud to the bishop by the coordinator of adult education from each parish, and written in the Book of the Elect. The elect rise and stand with their godparents, who attest to their preparedness to receive the Sacraments of Initiation, and they are entrusted to their spiritual care of their godparents.

“We begin this more intense period of preparation with the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent, when the whole Church has entered into this 40-day period of renewal. We are challenged by your commitment to enter into this intense period with you spiritually, if not literally, and to examine our own commitment. Your witness challenges us to let this period of Lent be fruitful for us,” Bishop Senior told the catechumens.

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading of the Spirit sending Jesus into the desert, where He was tempted for 40 days, the bishop told the congregation, “If we really enter into the spirit of Lent, we are confronting the reality of sin and our ongoing need for conversion throughout these days. But we don’t do it alone,” he said, pointing to the community of faith to which we belong.

“Let us all resolve on this first Sunday of Lent to not be afraid to acknowledge the parts of ourselves that are held by sinfulness, by the wild beasts that work in our hearts and our lives,” Bishop Senior said. “Jesus, in His love, is more powerful than any such beast, and He Himself has already conquered that. He went through these 40 days tempted by the devil and was stronger than that. He models for us where the Body of Christ will prevail over evil.”

A livestream video of the Rite of Election is available at this link.

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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