Another post, another chapter. After exhausting the rituals of election and sending to election, we’ll return to 12 sections that detail the season of Lent, known to RCIA folks as the “Period of Purification and Enlightenment.” Three sections on these fortysome days. Then 141-146 on the Scrutinies. Then wrap up with two sections on the presentations, which, as we’ve read, may have already taken place during the catechumenate period.
138. The period of purification and enlightenment, which the rite of election begins, customarily coincides with Lent. In the liturgy and liturgical catechesis of Lent the reminder of baptism already received or the preparation for its reception, as well as the theme of repentance, renew the entire community along with those being prepared to celebrate the paschal mystery, in which each of the elect and the local community, therefore, the Lenten season is a time for spiritual recollection in preparation for the celebration of the paschal mystery.
A coincidence isn’t an exact congruence. Consider the customary “Catholic” start to Lent being Ash Wednesday, not to mention the pre-conciliar observances of the Sundays prior. Also note the “togetherness” promoted by the rite: the entire community (of which the elect are certainly a part) makes the Lenten journey together. Just as the elect will be asked to scrutinize their lives, the baptized, in turn, will be encouraged to consider their initiation in light of the community’s newcomers. Indeed, Baptism and Penance share an intimate connection, one that’s not always emphasized in our post-conciliar breakdown of initiation, healing, and vocation sacraments. It’s not really accurate or spiritually helpful to put sacraments and groups of sacraments in contrast to one another. In all, the believer encounters Christ really and truly. It would be helpful if more threads could draw our sacramental spiritualities closer together.
As it is, be prepared to spend Lent in one observance, not two, as both elect and baptized ponder together the two great mysteries of initiation and forgiveness.