Lent 2012 – You Are a Chosen Race

Published on Mar 20th, 2012 by Austin Keith | 0
Join us throughout Lent to learn more about ways you can enrich your faith life leading up to Easter!
By Erin McGeever, director of Christian Formation

The RCIA Journey

The beginnings of the liturgical season of Lent go back to the early church’s initiation practice.  Lent was the time of the final, prayerful preparation for those whom the church would call to the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist at the great Vigil of Easter. After the early church centuries, the initiation focus of the season of Lent turned to one of reconciliation.  The reforms of Vatican II and the publication of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) in 1988 returned this initiation character to the Lenten season. Today, initiation and reconciliation form the two main themes of Lent.

The season of Lent in the RCIA process is marked by several rituals. Each of these rituals calls those preparing for initiation into a deeper relationship with Christ. The Rite of Sending usually occurs on the first Sunday of Lent. During this rite, the pastor and the parish community recognize the spiritual and moral progress of the catechumens (unbaptized) and candidates (baptized).  The pastor and the parish community send the catechumens and candidates forth to meet the diocesan bishop for the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. Care is taken in all of the rituals of RCIA to distinguish and respect those who are already baptized.

“In His name, we send you forth from this community to celebrate with the bishop the
Lord’s  choice of you to be numbered among his elect.” (RCIA 545)

The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion is celebrated at the Mother Church of the diocese – the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. During this ritual, the bishop ascertains that the catechumens and candidates have been well prepared in both the teachings and practices of the faith. He questions the godparents and sponsors, the assembly and the catechumens and candidates as well. After receiving affirmative testimonies, the bishop will call the catechumens (now Elect) and the candidates to the celebration of the Easter sacraments. This year, Bishop Estévez called 609 people to the Easter sacraments at three ceremonies.

“Bless all your adopted children and add these chosen ones to the harvest of
your New Covenant.” (RCIA 559)

The next two rituals for those in the RCIA process are The Penitential Rite (candidates) and the Scrutinies (Elect). The Penitential Rite is normally celebrated on the Second Sunday of Lent.  This ritual involves the prayer of the parish community in the calling down of the Holy Spirit to strengthen the candidates to walk in the light of Christ and to avoid the darkness of evil. The Scrutinies are short liturgical rites celebrated on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent. The purpose of these rituals is to call upon the intercession of the parish community for the Elect and to help them persevere in their ongoing conversion to Christ.  Three selections from the Gospel of John are used for each of the three Scrutinies: the Samaritan Woman (Jn 4:4-42), The Man Born Blind (Jn 9:1-40) and the Raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44). Each of these readings focuses on belief:  the Samaritan Woman hears and believes, the blind man sees and believes, but Martha and Lazarus believe without proof. 

The Elect also take part in two “presentation rites” during the third and fifth weeks of Lent….the Presentation of the Creed and Presentation of the Lord’s Prayer.  The creed is the proclamation of belief – what we believe, what we as Catholics set our hearts on, what we give ourselves over to.  In a similar way, the Lord’s Prayer is how we pray, how we address our God in petition, adoration, praise and thanksgiving.

This 40 day journey that RCIA catechumens and candidates take during the season of Lent is a great reminder and example for all of us of the riches of the Catholic Faith.  Participating in this journey with them leads all of us into a deeper understanding of the Paschal Mystery.
Photo:
Bishop Felipe Estévez blesses the catechumens and candidates as part of the Rite of Election at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, March 3, 2012. (Photo by Sarah Pascual)
Resources for Lent

Lent 2012 – “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert” (Mark 1:12) article by Erin McGeever

The Holy Father’s Lenten Message on Fraternal Correction available in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish at:
www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/lent/index_en.htm

Journey to the Foot of the Cross USCCB Blog by Bishop Ricken on “10 Things to Remember for Lent”:

http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com/2012/02/journey-to-foot-of-cross-bishop-ricken.html

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Lenten Resources:
www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/lent/

Lenten resources from St. Anthony Messenger Press, including:
Lent with the Saints by Franciscan Father Greg Friedman
Lenten soundbytes
Lenten Radio
www.americancatholic.org/features/lent.aspx

Praying Lent, the Creighton University online resources provide Stations of the Cross, a Lenten Retreat, daily meditations, spiritual readings:
http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Lent/

Resources to use with children; has links to many other sites:
www.catholicmom.com/lent.htm

Stations of the Cross for Lent
Various deacons of the Diocese of St. Augustine will lead the Stations of the Cross during the Lenten season at Marywood Retreat & Conference Center in St. Johns. Each Sunday at 3 p.m., from March 4 through March 25, Catholics are invited to pray the Stations of the Cross outdoors at Marywood, located at 235 Marywood Drive, St. Johns, Fla. 32259. The Stations of the Cross will be celebrated at 1 p.m. on April 1 (Palm Sunday). For questions, please call (904) 287-2525 or visit
http://www.marywoodcenter.org/.

Further south in Bunnell, Fla., at the St. Joseph Carmelite Monastery, Stations of the Cross are celebrated every Friday during Lent through Good Friday beginning at 3 p.m. Take I-95 South to Exit 278 (Old Dixie Highway). Their address is 141 Carmelite Drive, Bunnell, FL 32110. For more information, call (386) 437-2910 or visit http://www.carmelitefathers.org/.

 

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