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Rite of Election celebrated at cathedral
Catechumens and candidates bear witness to their developing faith.
Three hundred catechumens and 474 candidates from 41 parishes in the Arlington Diocese joined family and friends in two separate ceremonies last weekend for the annual Lenten celebration of the Rite of Election and the call to continuing conversion.
They came to the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington with their godparents and sponsors to declare before Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde their intentions and their commitment to Christ and the Church.
Bishop Loverde compared their journey to full communion to the athletes participating in the Winter Olympics. Both displayed “dogged preparation” and “are supported by friends and family.”
“We are here to enter into a communal process of conversion,” he told the faithful.
The catechumens were presented to the bishop by Father Paul deLadurantaye, director of the diocesan Office of Catechetics. Catechumens are non-baptized individuals who receive the sacraments of initiation — baptism, confirmation and Eucharist — at the Easter Vigil. They stood as the bishop asked their godparents:
“Have they faithfully listened to God’s word proclaimed by the Church?”
“They have,” the godparents answered.
“Have they responded to that word and begun to walk in God’s presence?”
“Have they shared the company of their Christian brothers and sisters and joined them in prayer?”
“They have,” was the answer.
Next, the bishop asked the assembled congregation if they are ready to support the catechumens’ testimony and include them in their prayers as they approach Easter.
“We are,” the congregation responded.
Finally the bishop asked the catechumens if they wish to enter fully into the life of the Church through the sacraments.
The catechumens replied, “We do.”
Father deLadurantaye then asked parish representatives to come forward and present the Book of the Elect to the bishop for his signature.
He then said; “I now declare you to be members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil.”
“Thanks be to God,” said the catechumens.
The godparents were asked to place a hand on the shoulder of the catechumen they were receiving into their care as the congregation repeated the response, “Chosen by God.”
Next the candidates were called and invited to stand with their sponsors. Candidates are baptized Christians who will receive the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
“Have they faithfully listened to the apostles’ instruction proclaimed by the Church?” the bishop asked the sponsors.
“Have they come to a deeper appreciation of their baptism, in which they are joined to Christ and His Church?”
“They have,” replied the sponsors.
“Have they reflected sufficiently on the tradition of the Church, which is their heritage, and joined their brothers and sisters in prayer?”
Finally the bishop asked, “Have they advanced in a life of love and service to others?”
The sponsors again replied, “They have.”
The bishop asked the congregation if they support the testimony expressed about the candidates and if they will pray for them as we move to Easter.
“We are,” the entire church answered.
Finally, Bishop Loverde addressed the candidates telling them that the Church recognizes their desire to be in full communion and invited them join the Church this Lent in a spirit of repentance and to hear the Lord’s call to conversion.
The candidates responded, “Thanks be to God.”
The sponsors were asked to place their hands on the shoulder of their candidate as the congregation repeated the response, “Chosen by God.”
They now enter a period of purification and enlightenment that culminates in full communion at the Easter Vigil.