KOTA KINABALU (CS) – At the heart of our Christian life is the understanding that each of us is called by God. We recall the words of Christ who said “You did not choose me, no, I chose you”. Not only does Christ choose, he calls us and knows us by name. Both of these are encapsulated in the Rite of Election which is celebrated in Catholic cathedrals throughout our country at the beginning of Lent each year.
The Rite of Election, the second step in the Christian initiation, is a significant step for those who want to be received into the Catholic Church – preparing to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist at Easter. After the candidates have completed their formation in the Catholic faith, the Rite of Election is celebrated by the local Bishop who chooses them and elects them in the name of the Lord and of the local Church to which they belong.
At this second step on the basis of the testimony of godparents and catechists, and of the catechumens’ affirmation of their intention, the Church judges their state of readiness and decides on their advancement towards the Sacraments of Initiation. Thus the Church makes its ”election”.
Mar 9 saw 842 catechumens from 17 parishes in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu being accepted by Archbishop John Wong for the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) this Easter at the Rite of Election at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Karamunsing, while at the same time 66 were being accepted at Blessed Sacrament Labuan.
At the Enrollment of Names each RCIA coordinator, together with their rector/assistant rector, presented the Book of Elect to the presider as “a pledge of fidelity” and a definitive commitment to proceed to the reception and celebration of the Easter sacraments.
The whole rite climaxed when the presider proclaimed that the catechumens were now members of the elect and bid them to be faithful to their undertaking and to deepen their faith during the final, more intensive Stage of Purification and Enlightenment that lies ahead.
To the godparents, they were invited to lay their hand on the shoulder of the elect as a gesture indicating their commitment to the well-being of the elect.
In his homily, the prelate addressed to all who were present, and in particular to the elect, that the 40 days’ Lenten journey was their final preparation to receive Jesus as their Saviour, was in fact their path of grace to encounter with Christ.
He also recalled them to their whole year’s formation and hoped that after knowing Jesus and coming to accept Him, they have firmly decided to follow Him for the rest of their life.
The period of purification and enlightenment of the elect’s path of the paschal mystery, which takes place over the 5 Sundays of Lent, would consist of scrutinies which are rites for self-searching and repentance, followed by the Church entrusting to them the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer in order to enlighten the elect.
This period concludes with the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.