Supporting the elect and candidates as we move toward Easter
The archdiocese held eight Rite of Election of Catechumens and Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates ceremonies Feb. 17-18 at San Fernando Cathedral, St. Anthony Mary Claret Parish, Church of the Holy Spirit, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Selma, St. Rose of Lima Parish, St. Jerome Parish in Martinez, and St. John Berchmans Church.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, and Auxiliary Bishop Michael Boulette presided at the weekend ceremonies.
The first Sunday of Lent marks the beginning of this annual Lenten observance, as the church celebrates the Rite of Election of catechumens who have been preparing for baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
Also observed is the Rite of Call to Conversion of candidates, who have already been baptized but are preparing for the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist. These rites begin the period of purification and enlightenment, a time of intense spiritual preparation for the sacraments of initiation.
In his homilies at the gatherings, Archbishop Gustavo described as God making order out of chaos, saying that sin — hatred, violence, racism — emerge from a disordered human nature and cause alienation and divisions. In referring to the first reading from Genesis, when after the Great Flood chaos filled the world and God made a covenant with all of creation.
“He will not allow the waters of chaos to overcome his creation again,” the archbishop explained. “It is as though he sets his archery bow down facing away from the world in a rainbow, reminding us of his love for us and his power to set things right, to overcome chaos, to bring about order and justice.”
In the Gospel reading from Peter, Jesus is driven into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tested by Satan, with the desert being a desolate place of chaos — inhabited by demons, wild animals.
“When the Israelites of old were rescued from slavery in Egypt through the Exodus, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, learning to trust God’s care for them in an inhospitable environment,” said Archbishop Gustavo. “In wandering through the desert they learned to be God’s people, utterly dependent upon God for everything. They learned that everything is in God’s good hands.”
The San Antonio prelate continued, “Jesus passes the test in the desert and begins his mission of proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God. He urges his listeners to repent, to change their lives — their thoughts, attitudes, and actions — to live in the kingdom: a place of justice and peace, mercy and compassion, unity and harmony, love and fidelity.”
The archbishop emphasized that the Gospel reminds us that being children of God involves struggle, testing. “We are constantly challenged to move beyond our weakness and self-centeredness to learn to rely on God’s power and strength,” he stressed. “This enables us to move away from the path of sin and to walk in God’s ways — in accord with the word of God.”
The Missionary of the Holy Spirit lamented that live in a time of chaos, widespread violence and hatred, serious divisions and growing polarization. “As Christians — as missionary disciples of the Lord Jesus, we are challenged to follow him even to the Cross on Calvary in order to carry out our shared responsibility for establishing the kingdom of God more fully in our world. The Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen us to be faithful to our calling,” he assured.
Archbishop Gustavo concluded by reminding listeners that Our Lady of Guadalupe has promised to be with us always. “She accompanies us on our journey as does her beloved Son,” he closed. “Let us enter joyfully into the remaining days of Lent that will lead to the Easter sacraments and new, abundant life in God!”
Following the homily the presentation of the catechumens commenced. The deacon invited the parish RCIA directors to come forward and call the names of the candidates from their own parishes. As their names were called, the attendees came forth with their sponsors and greeted the archbishop.
Affirmation was then given to three questions concerning the readiness of the candidates by the godparents, and the archbishop asked the assembly: “Are you ready to support the testimony expressed about these catechumens and include them in your prayer and affection as we move toward Easter?” Those gathered responded, “We are ready to support them through prayer and affection.”
At the invitation and enrollment of the names, Archbishop Gustavo quizzed the catechumens, “Do you wish to enter fully into the life of the church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist?” They replied with a hearty, “I do.”
For the Act of Admission, the RCIA directors held high the Books of the elect in which the catechumens inscribed their names at their parish Rite of Sending. The archbishop then made the declaration of the election of the catechumens.
The presentation of candidates for full communion — those to receive the sacraments of confirmation and the Eucharist — took place in the same manner, after which the assembly prayed a song of thanksgiving.
At the conclusion of the ceremony those present were invited to the Chrism Mass scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m., at St. Luke Church at 4603 Manitou in San Antonio.