SASKATOON — Ten catechumens wrote their names in the Book of the Elect during the diocesan Rite of Election held on the first Sunday of Lent, Feb. 22, at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
Entering a time of purification and enlightenment during the lenten season, the newly elect will celebrate the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and eucharist at the Easter Vigil in their home parishes.
The Rite of Election is part of the RCIA process (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). During the diocesan celebration, catechumens were presented to Bishop Donald Bolen, and affirmed in their journey of conversion and faith by their godparents, catechists and the community.
Covenant, baptism and the lenten period of preparation were themes of the Scripture readings and the homily. “The God who made us, loves us and wants to be in a relationship with us, a covenantal relationship. God wants to draw us into God’s own life,” Bolen said.
“Your experience of being called to be a disciple of Jesus, to be baptized, is part of this covenant — a covenant which gives life, an everlasting covenant that is our hope and our life,” he added, addressing the catechumens who are journeying toward baptism at Easter.
“We are drawn into the life of Christ” through the waters of baptism, he said. “In baptism you are also drawn into the life of the church . . . the community who tries to live as Jesus’ disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit. In baptism we summon you into that life,” Bolen said.
“We live with a great hope that God is with us, and God’s transforming power is at work in us.”
After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he went into the wilderness for 40 days, where he was tempted, said Bolen, reflecting on the Gospel reading from Mark. “For Jesus, this was a period of formation, a period of preparation, of prayer and fasting in anticipation of the ministry that God had given him,” said the bishop.
“For us, too, the season of Lent is a season of preparation, preparing to celebrate deeply the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It’s a period of transformation,” said Bolen. “Lent is not ultimately about sorrow and deprivation, it is ultimately about being called and being transformed into a people who truly live by the joy, hope and conviction of a community of disciples.”
For the catechumens this lenten period of preparation and transformation is a kind of extensive retreat, he added. “This is a period of really inviting very deeply God into your lives; asking God to form you, to fashion you, to prepare you for the great gift, the great joy of being his disciples.”
Journeying with those who are being brought into the church and being formed as disciples is a great gift to the entire Christian community, the bishop added. “We are all renewed by this process. We accompany you with great joy.”
At a luncheon gathering earlier in the day, Bolen also welcomed and blessed 21 candidates — Christians who have already been baptized, and who are preparing to come into full communion with the Catholic Church during the Easter season.
“The Catholic Church understands that you are already part of the Body of Christ, baptized into the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” the bishop said, addressing the already baptized candidates. “We were in a relationship with you before you decided to seek this path,” he said. “And you are going to bring gifts with you, as you enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.”
Michelle Sieben of the diocesan Office of Christian Initiation and Catechetics also spoke at the luncheon, describing the meaning of various elements of the Rite of Election, as well as addressing the role of godparents.