By Anne Koester, RCIA Coordinator
Looking for a Lenten practice? One suggestion is to pay attention to what will be happening with the adults and children who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil. The Season of Lent invites all of us who are baptized to walk the journey to the font with them and to be ready to welcome them into the Body of Christ.
It will all begin on the First Sunday of Lent with the parish Rite of Sending for Election. During this rite, we as a parish community recognize the catechumens to be baptized at the coming Easter Vigil and assure them of our blessings and prayers as we “send” them to Archbishop Gregory, who will call them to the Easter Sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
From the day of election through the 40-day period of Lent, called the period of purification and enlightenment for the Elect, our Elect are invited into a more intense time of spiritual preparation as they anticipate the Easter sacraments. As Lenten people, we are called to “give the Elect the example of [our] own renewal in the spirit of penance, faith, and charity” (RCIA 9(4)). The Elect look to us to give authentic witness to living these spiritual disciplines – and not only during Lent. As the baptized assembly who is present for the scrutiny rites celebrated with the elect, those rituals of self-searching and repentance on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent, we pray with the Elect that all that is “weak, defective, or sinful” in their hearts be healed and all that is “upright, strong, and good” within them be strengthened (RCIA 141). This is our responsibility – as the baptized, as people who also know, at times, weakness and sinfulness, and the need to be strengthened.
At the Easter Vigil, when our elect are plunged into the waters of baptism, incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church, we who are already baptized find meaning in renewing our own baptismal promises (RCIA 9(4)), recommitting ourselves to the faith we profess and embody.
And after the Easter Vigil, our work is not yet done, for we are to “welcome the neophytes (the newly baptized) with open arms in charity, and help them to feel more at home in the community” (RCIA 5). The neophytes are to “experience a full and joyful welcome,” which, in turn, should bring us a “renewal of inspiration and of outlook” (RCIA 246). We walk with our neophytes throughout the Easter season – and beyond – when we are called to grow together in deepening our understanding of the paschal mystery, making it part of our lives through reflection on the Gospel, sharing the eucharist, and doing the works of charity (RCIA 244).
Please pray for our Elect – Nick, Mayer, Darcy, Lizi, Nancy, Jim, Rich, Tara, Diana, Rory and Hans.