Today the Church “opens her arms of embrace” to welcome people from across the Diocese of Allentown who are entering the final phase of becoming members of the Catholic Church, said Bishop Alfred Schlert at the Rite of Election.
The Bishop presided at the rite for 75 catechumens – those preparing to become Catholic – March 6 at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown. The ceremony was celebrated in English and Spanish.
On the First Sunday of of Lent, catechumens, godparents, sponsors, catechists and their families from across the Diocese gather to celebrate this important rite in the process of Christian Initiation. The Rite of Election celebrates the maturing of conversion and growth of commitment in catechumens.
The rite was not celebrated in 2021 because of the pandemic, but catechumens were able to continue their preparations at their parishes.
“Every year, many, many men and women choose to come into the Church of Christ, called by the Holy Spirit, responding of their own free will and embracing the one true faith,” said Bishop Schlert in his homily.
“The entire Catholic community is praying for you,” the Bishop told the catechumens, “in these very grace-filled and privileged days of your final preparations.”
He noted that they will be going through “a time of trial, and that comes from the evil one – Satan.” Just as Jesus was tempted, “The devil knows for each one of us what is our weak spot spiritually, and so I would say to you, be on guard, because the evil one does not want you to become heirs to eternal life.
“So be aware that you may undergo extra temptations, extra doubts. But do not fear, because the will of Christ is stronger than the will of the evil one. The power of the Church, which Jesus founded, is stronger than the enticements of the evil one.”
After the homily, the catechumens were presented to the Bishop by Father Keith Mathur, director of the Office of Divine Worship, followed by the affirmations of their sponsors that they are prepared to be enrolled among the elect for the coming celebration of Easter. The catechumens expressed their readiness by signing their names in the Book of the Elect.
Bishop Schlert then declared the catechumens members of the “elect,” as they have come to sufficient understanding; advanced in their conversion of mind, heart and spirit; manifest in their lives the holy virtues and practices; and are ready to make a life-long commitment to God.
They are now ready to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the Easter Vigil, where they will be baptized, confirmed and receive the Holy Eucharist.