LITURGY MATTERS: It’s only a Rite, Right?

Remembering the Rite of Election on Sunday March 1

It was the right day, the right weather, the right music and the right amount of food to celebrate the Rite of Election. On Sunday afternoon 1st March, fifteen committed Catechumens gathered with their sponsors, family and friends at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, to celebrate a momentous occasion in their faith-life.

When I first heard the words ‘Rite of Election’ I assumed it was voting time again. However, to my pleasant surprise I was mistaken. Last Sunday was the first time I have had the privilege of attending a ‘Rite of Election’. I say privileged because what other Church celebrates Christian initiations in such a reverent and spiritually inviting way?

The ‘Book of the Elect’ is what I found most intriguing. How special for these fifteen Catechumens to not only affirm their faith publicly but to scribe their name in a book that will join a long list of those chosen previously for initiation.

The Rite of Election coincides with the beginning of Lent and is a pivotal moment of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process. It marks the end of the period of preparation where a person undergoes a ‘heart and mind’ conversion that initiates them into the Catholic way of life and prayer and a deeper understanding of catholic teaching.  The Rite of Election marks the beginning of the final, more intense preparation to receive the initiation sacraments at the Easter Vigil.

The soul stirring sounds of the choir led by Trish Woods and Anne Millard created a heavenly ambience, particularly as we sang ‘Sign me up’ as the newly Elect signed the Book of the Elect on the altar and were welcomed by Fr. Andrew Doohan who stood in for Bishop Bill.  I found myself deeply moved by the look of joy, enthusiasm and peace on their faces.  What a bold step they were taking.  It was an emotional and inspiring occasion which reminded me that the Church is fully awake and living the Gospel within our communities. It was just the ‘shot in the arm’ I needed.  I recommend this liturgy to everyone. 

After this wonderful celebration, the congregation shared afternoon tea in the Toohey Room.

It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a timely reminder, during this time of Lent, about who we are as a Church.

We are a Church that embraces traditional rituals with beautiful music and sacred scripture. We are a Church that prepares such moments that ignites souls and opens hearts. We are a Church that welcomes all people in the rite way. It’s only Rite, right?                                                                                                                                     

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Natasha Brotherton Image
Natasha Brotherton

Natasha Brotherton is Diocesan Education Officer, Pastoral Ministries