25 March 2019

The Rite of Election!

Well, well, what have we here?  Another post!  Things have been absolutely CRAZY busy around here for me.  Lots of exciting things happened and are currently happening, though.

Let's see...

second row is where we were.  Left to right:  Corey (as per his request, 'The Handsome and Magnificent'), his Elect, Tony; Mary and her Elect, Bertine; Karen and her Candidate, yours truly; Julie (you can't really see her, she's so tiny!) and her husband, Dave (Julie and Dave are one of the sweetest couples I've ever met, truly!) and his Elect (who, God willing, will be coming in next year!), Hamadu; I can't tell who that is next to him, and then June and Joe (another one of the sweetest couples I've ever met!).
A couple of weeks ago, my RCIA group and I went through our next 'rite of passage,' if you will, the Rite of Election.  There were upwards around 5,000 people who attended.  Many parishes had people coming in!  Bishop Campbell did the service and as part of it (and I had heard of his quirky approach but had never experienced it... This was the second time I'd ever attended ANYTHING he'd done, the first one was at the Women's Conference I went to last month with some of my favourite ladies from my parish, Bishop Campbell had celebrated the Mass), he decided to ask us coming into the Church a question.  What number of us were brought further closer in our curiosity of the Church because of something we saw, read, or heard?  Saw = artwork, movie, something that they attended with a Catholic friend, etc.  Read = book, pamphlet, letter, something like that.  Heard = a statement, a song, a homily if they attended a Mass with a Catholic friend, etc.

So, a good number of us raised our hands.  He decided to narrow the lens a little, because now he's curious, right, so he asked about reading, first.  Hm.  I like this guy.  He's a reader, I can tell because he's going for books, first.  Books = LIFE, right?  Or am I the only one that sees it that way?  

Anyway, so one gal in our section, she's sitting in the pew in front of where we were, he calls on her and asks her what it was that she'd read.  She starts laughing and says, 'I honestly don't remember.'  He smiled at her and said, 'Oh, that's okay.  You're here, and that's what matters!'  I loved that!  So, he interacts with a few other people, and then he goes on to the next one:  'saw.'  What was it that was seen that got us curious?  I had raised my hand, b/c I had seen something (a few things) that got me curious.  Thankfully, he didn't call on me, but my sponsor leans over and whispers, 'what was it that got your attention?'  I told her, 'I'm not even making this up, but Sister Act and I remember watching a little bit of Mama Angelica on EWTN when I was supposed to be doing my homework!  I was 17!' 

No kidding, I love Whoopi Goldberg and Dame Maggie Smith, and when I had heard they did a movie together, I had to watch it.  That got the ball rolling pretty quickly and out-of-control for me.  I now own both movies, and while I took my sweet time (and in some ways, I know God knew I wasn't quite ready yet) coming into the Church, this Easter I will be entering into the Family of God and I can't believe it's finally happening!  I'm noticing (and I've had at least one or two people notice) that I'm different.  Like, I'm normally VERY shy.  And in a lot of ways, I still am.  But if it's something I love to talk about, then yes, I'm all kinds of involved.  I'll tell people that can't outrun me and will listen.

After he was done with that, he went back to the rest of the rite's actual layout, and called the then-Catechumens up to sign their names into the books at the front of the room (it's a representation and symbol of the Book of Life in Heaven), and then when they were done and had returned to their pews, Bishop pronounced them no longer Catechumens, but as Elect.  Then came the Candidates' turn.

I should pause here and explain something.  A 'Catechumen' is a person who's coming into the Catholic Church, but they have not been baptized yet (or they were, but it's not a valid baptism - ie if they've been baptized as a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness, it is NOT a valid baptism, because it is NOT a legitimate Christian baptism).  A 'Candidate' is someone who HAS been through a valid baptism (being baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  I've been baptized - technically - three times.  The first one, as a Mormon, is a bogus baptism, the second one, as a Baptist, is valid, and the third one as a Nondenominational Charismatic, they don't count that one either, because of my reasons behind being through that one weren't in alignment with what a baptism is for.  

My sponsor, Karen, and I as I put my certificate of baptism into the book...
SO, I did have to track down my baptismal records when Pastor Jimmy baptized me back in 1995, but the gal I spoke to was able to find them!  HOORAY!  I was given a beautiful certificate to put into the binder for the Candidates to add their names by way of their baptismal records, and when it came my turn to go up to put the certificate into the book, I was later told that I looked like I was getting ready to face down my own execution. Uh.  Wut?  I won't lie, I was terrified.  As I said, there were 5,000 people there.  Five.  Thousand.  I'm not even making this up.  And no, obviously I did not count them myself, but I was told later that this was a legitimate number and not a random estimate.  So, yes, needless to say, I was a touch nervous about all those people.

When we got back to our respective seating, the Bishop pronounced and presented us as Candidates into the Catholic Church.

Each pronunciation, when it was the Catechumen into Elect, and then us Candidates, the sun came out for a brief moment.  Almost like God was saying, 'You're almost there, guys!  Just a little longer!  I AM so overjoyed!'

Front L-R:  Tony, Bertine, and myself
Back L-R:  Corey, Mary, and Karen

After the Rite was over, we kind of milled around, taking photos, catching up with friends and such, just fellowshipping and just enjoying everything.  The artwork in St Paul's is incredible.  The building, the way it's built, is the shape of a huge Cross, and the outside is bright, bright red.  There's stained glass windows, and in the centre of the Sanctuary is a massive altar for the Mass to be celebrated, with a rotunda directly overhead.

Despite the fact that it was so packed, I really enjoyed not just participating in this beautiful ceremony with my new Church family, but it was amazing to see so many people hearing and responding wholeheartedly to God's beckoning to 'Follow Me.'  :)

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