LITURGY MATTERS: Rituals Remind Us

There is something about rituals that connects people. Rituals provide us with a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves and the everyday routines and habits that we develop. Rituals retell the story of our culture, our past, our common beliefs and values that unite us and give depth and meaning to our lives.

The Rite of Election liturgy is a ritual that invites us to connect with our Catholic culture and reminds us of the beauty and sacredness of what it means to identify as a Catholic Christian. This rite celebrates a milestone for unbaptised seekers, known as Catechumens, who have journeyed through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process and are ready to become initiated into a new way of life where they will celebrate a new culture, the Catholic culture.  It is held each year at the beginning of Lent, perfectly timed as we reflect and draw close to Jesus in preparation for Easter. This ritualistic liturgy is a process that finalises a chapter for the Catechumens who have participated in the RCIA journey and signifies the beginning of a new chapter.

On Sunday 21 February 2021, the Rite of Election liturgy was held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newcastle West. Fr Andrew Doohan, the Vicar General, warmly welcomed the five spirit-filled Catechumens who, one by one, made their way to the altar to enter their name into the Book of the Elect, signifying their readiness to celebrate Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at the next Easter Vigil.

This ritual reveals a genuine willingness of the Elect to prepare for full incorporation into the Catholic Church and demonstrates their commitment to Christ and the Catholic faith. This seemingly small gesture invited all who were present to reflect on their own personal commitment to follow Christ.

Anne Millard and her amazing choir captured the sacredness of the liturgy through harmonies and Gregorian chants that complemented the celebration beautifully. The inclusion of Ailis Macpherson signing in Auslan to the words of ‘Sign Me Up’ gave special meaning to this hymn which was sung as the newly Elect ‘signed up’.

After this wonderful celebration the Elect and congregation shared afternoon tea and fellowship in the Victor Peters Suite. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a timely reminder about who we are as a Church. I encourage you to come along next year so you can be a part of a ritual that reminds us of our past, our deep connection to Christ and our Catholic culture.

‘Rituals keep us from forgetting what must not be forgotten and keep us rooted in a past from which we must not be disconnected’.  - Tony Campolo

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Natasha Brotherton Image
Natasha Brotherton

Natasha Brotherton is Diocesan Education Officer, Pastoral Ministries