Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rite of Election

I fear my descriptions can't do justice to the evening. We all met at the beautiful Cathedral in downtown Portland. From what I could tell, the place was essentially full of candidates, catechumens, sponsors & God parents. No family & friends were invited because there just wasn't room! I had joked with a friend of mine earlier that this is where they roll out the spooky stuff no one else was supposed to see... But there was nothing weird about the night except for the flickering lights throughout the service. I think there were at least 10 or so parishes represented. I wished it was light out so I could see the stained glass, but I was sated by the 9 amazing murals on the walls of the apse behind the altar (Emil Jacques, 1930-36). The one in particular that caught my eye was Mary's assumption into heaven. She wasn't wearing blue, but a light peach/rose sort of colour. She wasn't perched on the shoulders of a bunch of fat little cherubims, but two beefy young male angels in their prime. Their wings were enormous & somehow muscular. It just seemed fitting. The walls were white with gold accents & the ceiling was painted a rich dark blue & red. It was all very tasteful. An old, ornate & ginormous organ loomed from the balcony in the back of the church. I would have liked to see it, but perhaps some other time.

The Archbishop, a priest, a deacon & few other altar servers made their way to the altar during the entrance song. I've never seen an Archbishop in person, so it was interesting to note his clothing, hat & staff (or "regalia" as I like to call it). After he greeted us, he went to his chair & sat down, which means we got to sit down too. The Liturgy of the Word commenced. We had our first reading, a responsorial Psalm, a second reading & then the gospel. Everything was bi-lingual as there were so many Hispanics in attendance. The Archbishop delivered a short homily on confession & repentance & then it was time for the Celebracion del Llamando a la Conversion Continua (or, the Celebration of the Call to Continuing Conversion).

This is the time for the candidates to be presented to the Archbishop. We stood with our sponsors when our names were called by our RCIA directors. Then we sat & our sponsors stood to offer testimony about our readiness. The Archbishop queried the assembly, asking if they would accept the sponsor's testimonies & support us with prayers & love. Of course, everyone said yes. Then we candidates stood to hear him tell us the Church recognizes our desire. He invited us to join the Church in a spirit of repentance this Lenten season, to hear God's call to conversion & to be faithful to our baptismal covenant. Then we were seated & the Rite of Election began for the catechumens in much the same fashion. When all the names were called & testimonies offered, the Books of the Elect were brought to the Archbishop to sign. We sang songs & when all the books were signed, the Archbishop declared all of us "members of the Elect, to be fully initiated into the sacred mysteries at the Easter Vigil". We stood for prayer & a blessing & were dismissed with song. As the Archbishop & company left, I noticed he made the sign of the cross over each section of pews. I thought of it like a kiss blown. I am blessed. I'm not alone anymore. I am empowered, supported & safe. I'm coming home...

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