SACRAMENT MATTERS: Rite of Election & Christian Discipleship

Dr Christine Wood, Director, Office of Evangelisation & Catechesis

The Archdiocese recently celebrated the Rite of Election at St Mary’s Cathedral. This forms the second major gateway of catechumens as they progress towards full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Mass.

It was a delightful celebration for the Tasmanian Church as these folks have undergone significant Christian formation in preparation for their baptism.

The Rite marks the end of the lengthy period of formation called the catechumenate, and is the beginning of the period of final, more intense spiritual preparation for the sacraments of initiation.

The Rite of Election marks a key moment for catechumens for they publicly declare their deliberate intention, enlightened by faith, to receive the sacraments.

They also resolve to continue to walk in the ways of Christ. In so doing, they change their status from “catechumens” to “the Elect”.

In the Rite, catechists and godparents bear witness to their catechumens’ worthiness to proceed towards baptism. In response, the Archbishop declares the catechumens to be chosen by God for entry into his Church.

Supported by their godparents at the Rite of Election, catechumens publicly declared their deliberate intentions, enlightened by faith, to receive the sacraments. Photo: Josh Low

Jesus said to his disciples: “You did not choose me but I chose you.” For this reason, all catechumens who are ready for the Rite, gather before the Archbishop, who on behalf of Christ and the Church, declares them to be “chosen in Christ”.

To become members of “the Elect” is a call to ongoing discipleship. In his address to the catechumens, Archbishop Julian asked them: “Are you ready to give yourself completely to Jesus Christ whom you recognise as the Son of God, as Saviour of the world, and as Lord of all? Do you desire to model your life on his example and teachings? Are you ready to embrace the life of a Catholic by participating in the life of the Church particularly in participating in Sunday Mass in your local parish?”

To arrive at this stage in their preparation, catechumens have faithfully listened to God’s word as proclaimed by the Church. They have begun to walk in God’s presence, and have shared company with fellow Christians and prayed with them.

After declaring their desire to enter fully into the life of the Church through the sacraments, the catechumens are invited to enrol their names in the ‘Book of the Elect’. This significant moment is the catechumen’s pledge of fidelity in response to being chosen.

The catechumens’ public declaration of faith and discipleship is a profound witness to all Christians. They require our prayerful encouragement to persevere in their journey towards the Lord. Conversely, their bold public declaration of Christian faith calls us to a deeper expression of our own Christian witness this Lent.

Tags: Evangelisation and Catechesis, St Mary's Cathedral