Fr. Bob Langone, SA presided at the Saturday Vigil Mass February 13th at Christ the Redeemer. A few days earlier, the Catholic community had begun the Lenten season with the observance of Ash Wednesday. Fr. Bob concelebrated mass with Fr. Patrick Cogan, SA, JCD at the noon mass and on his own at the 5:00 PM evening mass. He reminded the community that ashes on foreheads were external signs of what is going on inside. It marks one as a Christian and shouldn’t come as a surprise to the people who know and live around us. If it did, then something is not right. He also went on to say that the ashes on everyone’s foreheads act as a “family resemblance” in which we are reminded that although we are different, we resemble one another as Christians made in the image and likeness of God.
At the Saturday evening mass, Fr. Bob celebrated the Rite of Election for 8 catechumens. These people are of catechetical age, but have not yet been baptized. They wish to become Catholic. For people in these circumstances, rather than celebrate something akin to infant baptism, they follow a process often referred to as the RCIA or Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Through a series of rituals and steps that tend to follow the liturgical calendar, they move from the stage of inquiry through the period of the catechumenate on the way to full initiation.
At the Rite of Election, each catechumen comes forward to sign (or enroll) his or her name in the Book of the Elect. It is an outward sign of their commitment to journey through Lent. For their part, the community of faith pledges to support the newly Elect on the Lenten journey to celebrating the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Communion at the Easter Vigil. The Church takes this outward sign as God’s call (or election) of those who wish to become Catholic. Their act of enrollment and declaration as Elect marks their first official entry into the Catholic registry.
The 8 catechumens from the English speaking community were first introduced to the parish during Advent through the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. This group was joined by a larger Spanish speaking group in a bilingual celebration for that Rite. The two groups will again join together during Holy Week and will celebrate the Easter Vigil together in a bilingual celebration.
The 8 catechumens at the Rite of Election at the Saturday 530 PM Mass were: Jalen Oakley, Fabricio Rodriguez, Justin Ruano, Elvis Levia, Emelyn Levia, Stephen Levia, Kenneth Collao, and Julian Vera. They were joined by parents and godparents as they were presented to Fr. Bob at the foot of the altar with Hunter Lillis, the DRE providing them with catechetical instruction. The Rite took place immediately after the Homily and the newly Elect were invited to remain with the community for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The group will return again for the celebration of the Scrutinies, which takes place on the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent before the start of Holy Week. The Rite of Election for those in the Spanish speaking community took place at the Saturday 7:00 PM Mass.
As a reminder to the parish community, while the Elect are preparing this Lent to make their Baptismal vows and celebrate sacraments of initiation, the Faithful are preparing to renew their Baptismal vows and celebrate the renewal of their faith in the life, death, resurrection of Jesus the Savior. In this way, the Elect are an outward sign and symbol that reminds and inspires the Faithful during the Lenten journey. Similarly, the Faithful provide Christian witness and prayers of support for the Elect to journey through Lent with purpose, seeing always a Christian resemblance in this community of faith into which they wish to be initiated.