RCIA 121: Election as Focal Point

img_6803Election is not only a point in time for the Church’s celebration of initiation. There is a reason why the bishop is designated as the celebrant:

121. The election, marked with a rite of such solemnity, is the focal point of the Church’s concern for the catechumens. Admission to election therefore belongs to the bishop, and the presiding celebrant for the rite of election is the bishop himself or a priest or deacon who acts as the bishop’s delegate (see RCIA no. 12).

Before the rite of election the bishop, priests, deacons, catechists, godparents, and the entire community, in accord with their respective responsibilities and in their own way, should, after considering the matter carefully, arrive at a judgment about the catechumens’ state of formation and progress. After the election, they should surround the elect with prayer, so that the entire Church will accompany and lead them to encounter Christ.

In the calendar year, election and Lent seem to come late to the catechumenate experience. The way the Church treats the “before,” the catechumenate period, which they advise will last from one to several years, would seem to be in a sort of balance with the Forty Days, which is bracketed by election and the Easter Vigil.

The emphasis on prayer: I don’t know that this has truly seeped in to the general Catholic consciousness yet. I think the immanence of initiation is obvious in most communities. Getting baptized in forty-some days: that stares you in the face. I’m not sure the Church’s desired intensity is observed in all places to the extent it could be. What do you think?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in post-conciliar liturgy documents, RCIA, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to RCIA 121: Election as Focal Point

  1. Liam says:

    Well, that intensity might develop more when more parishes are reduced to a single priest-pastor with a single Mass on Sundays. The “community” otherwise does not gather together in an intense way like that.

  2. Jim McK says:

    In line with your note on dissatisfaction, can the intensity ever be great enough?

    People need to be aware that Lent is about preparing for baptism, and that every lenten practice reflects the conversion of the elect. As JP2 said, every person should hear the words God spoke to Jesus at his baptism, “This is my beloved, the chosen.” So the chosen, the elect, includes every baptized person as well as those headed for baptism.

    The Scrutinies are a place for the prayer of the community to be manifested. We focus our attention on the Our Father, walking through the parts of that prayer to illuminate the liturgy we celebrate each sunday. Hallowing God’s name, learning how God’s kingdom appears on earth and in heaven, receiving our daily bread and forgiving the trespasses of others — these culminate in the presentation of that prayer, and hopefully a preparation to pray together.

    Hopefully this permeates Lent for the elect, and seeps into the lives of the rest of the community. But it could be more intense, with the seepage becoming a flood as more become aware of our relationship with God. Maybe someday.

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