On the 06th march 2022 the Cathedral of Christ the King was packed to capacity as the Archdiocese of Johannesburg held the rite of the Election and Enrolment of names of the catechumens. The catechumens come from all parishes in the Archdiocese. The rite of election is a second step in Christian initiation after the acceptance of the catechumens.
It usually takes place on the first week of Lent. The spiritual significance of the rite is for the preparation of those seeking to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and holy Eucharist. At the heart of the celebration, RCIA coordinators or catechist present the book of the ‘elect’ with the names of THE catechumens to the archbishop who then pens his signature as a gesture of his acceptance of the catechumens “I now declare you to be members of the elect, to be initiated in the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil”.
With the rite of election, the catechumens are expected to undergo a process of conversion in mind and heart. Archbishop Buti Tlhagale who is the proper minister and presiding celebrant for the rite of election was very delighted with the number of those seeking to be initiated into the Catholic faith and those seeking full communion. In his homily he focused on the significance of the sacrament of Baptism.
He stated that Baptism makes us members of the Christ’s body, with this we immediately inherit a responsibility to be missionaries and alter Christus. He continued “Both lay and clergy are called to usher the reign of God in society”. Furthermore, the Archbishop emphasized that historically the notion of alter Christus (other Christ) was exclusively meant to apply to the clergy but in our time, it applies to lay people as well.
We are all called he said “to be visible signs of Christ in our communities”. His encouraging message was well received, now it is up to all of us to put into action the words of exhortation. Following the rite of election is the celebration of the scrutanies on the Sundays of lent, this are enforced with exorcism, “to uncover and heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect”.
Priest or deacons are encouraged to celebrate these rites in such a way that the elect recognize their sinfulness and need for God’s grace in their lives. The scrutanies are also a way to re-awaken the sense of faith in God for all Christians. In recapitulating everything lets us echo the words of the dismissal of the elect in the rite of election by the bishop “my dear elect, this community now sends you forth to reflect more deeply upon the word of God which you have shared with us today. Be assured of our loving support and prayers for you. We look forward to the day when you will share fully in the Lord’s table.”.
Article by Fr. Boshom Mpetsheni. Notes from the book of Rites Vol 1.