LITURGY MATTERS: New Life - Alleluia!

Happy Easter! For my friend Bernadette, new life abounds because on Easter Wednesday she became a grandmother for the first time! Little Joseph Samuel has transformed Bernadette and her family.

Seeing the delight on Bernadette’s face and listening to the stories of Joseph’s arrival brought back memories of the joy and excitement in our family when new babies arrive.

They become the focus. Our conversation is transformed. How we gather and what we do changes. What time we schedule things is different. We sing different songs, do mad dances, rock when we hold them, make funny faces and read different books. The shopping list changes, and we frequent different shops. Who knew babies could require so many wardrobe changes!

Leaving the house if you are the parents, or preparing the house if you are the grandparents involves meticulous planning.

For Bernadette this has only just begun! How exciting.

Over Easter, a similar story unfolded in many of our parishes as we baptised, confirmed and shared Eucharist with all those who, having undertaken the journey of Christian Initiation, stood before us and declared their desire to be immersed into the life, death and resurrection of Christ. We had two adults initiated at the Easter Vigil in the Cathedral, and then last Sunday night Bishop Michael confirmed another young woman.

It is a privilege to be present at these celebrations. Without exception these new Catholics shine with joy and delight and love and absolute relief that what they have longed for has finally come to be!

I’ve been Catholic all my life so I can become a little blasé about my faith, and disengaged from the constant call to surrender to God’s love and be renewed. My hope can become a little dull, my worship a little routine. But let me tell you, such feelings are transformed in the excitement of the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation. You can’t help but be touched.

Just as Bernadette and her family will accompany Joseph and his parents, so we are called to accompany our new Catholics over the next twelve months. During this time, they hold a place honour when our parish gathers for worship.   

Just as Bernadette’s family will do with Joseph, we are called to wrap the newly initiated around with our care and concern as we continue to share our faith with them and invite them ever more deeply into the Church’s life and mission.

And just like Bernadette’s family, nothing in our parishes will be exactly the same. Why? Because the delight of new faith often draws our attention to aspects of our life that we may not have considered for some time.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults sets out a magnificent vision for the initiation and accompaniment of those whom God is calling to Catholic life and faith. It places Initiation at the heart of parish life and designates it as the responsibility of all the baptised, not just the relevant team. If we dare to engage with this vision our whole community will find new life!

Bernadette and her family are forever changed by the arrival of Joseph Samuel.  It is my hope and prayer that our parish communities are also changed and renewed by the new life that constantly comes to us through the ministry of Christian Initiation. While we continue to accompany those initiated at Easter, we will soon be invited to accompany those families who present their baptised children for confirmation and first eucharist. I hope you’re all ready!

One of my favourite scripture references is from John’s Gospel where Jesus says to the disciples, ‘I call you friends.’ People will experience the friendship of God in the friendship we extend to them. It is up to each one of us to be a friend of God to all people, and to accompany with deep care. those who experience the call to follow God in our Catholic family.

If you and your parish would like to engage in some reimagining of the ministry of Christian Initiation, please contact us:

Wishing you an abundance of Easter Blessing as we celebrate our new life in Christ. Alleluia!


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Image: © Louise Gannon All rights reserved.

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Louise Gannon rsj

Louise Gannon rsj is the Diocesan Manager of Worship and Prayer.