The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion
The Rite of Election is celebrated annually in the Diocese of Camden. We gather at Our Lady of Peace Parish/St. Agnes Church in Blackwood on the First Sunday of Lent at 3 p.m.
At the heart of our Christian life is the understanding that each of us is called by God. We hear, proclaimed in Scripture, the words of Christ who said “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” Not only does Christ choose, he calls us and knows us by name.
These are the truths of our faith enacted ritually at the The Rite of Election.
The Rite of Election marks a significant step for our catechumens – those who are preparing to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. Election in our contemporary culture often signifies a contest, or our choosing something or somebody. The Rite of Election is not about the catechumens choosing the Catholic Church; rather, as in the great scriptural tradition of election, it is about God’s choice of the person. For Christians this is the call to embrace the mission of Jesus, the mission of God’s Kingdom.
The introduction to the Rite states that it is called “election” because the acceptance made by the Church is founded on the election of God in whose name the Church acts. After the catechumens have completed their formation in their parishes, the Rite of Election is celebrated by the Bishop who chooses them, elects them, in the name of the Lord and of the local Church to which they belong.
The call, the election, of the Church embodies in human voice the call of God to which the catechumens have already responded. They are then asked to express their response publicly in the presence of the Church –
“Do you wish to enter fully into the life of the Church through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist?”
They respond “We do”.
The catechumens have already inscribed their names in the Book of the Elect at a ceremony in their respective parishes.
Led forward by their parish RCIA Coordinator, who carries the Book of the Elect, they are greeted personally by the Bishop.
He then declares that the catechumens are to be called “The Elect” until they receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.