Election 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?