Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rite of Election 2006
While the world was busy with Oscar selections on Sunday night, other selections were being made at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral in Oklahoma City, and in other Catholic cathedrals. It was the Rite of Election, typically done on the First Sunday of Lent, for those who have been preparing to enter the Catholic Church this Easter. The Rite of Election is a ritual by which those who have been undertaking formation in the Catholic Faith are chosen (or "elected," from the more formal root meaning of the word) and blessed by the bishop for their eventual entrance into the Catholic Church. After the ceremony they are referred to as the "Elect," the ones chosen. The proper meaning of the elect refers to those who are not yet baptized, but who will be baptized, confirmed, and receive Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. In common practice, that group is also combined with the group of those already baptized (in other ecclesial communions) who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church by making a Profession of Faith in what the Catholic Church teaches, believes and professes to be revealed by God. So, there are really two subgroups within the group of the elect.

There are enough people entering the Catholic Church in our part of the world, that we have to have three back-to-back services in order to fit everyone in our Cathedral. It is a good ceremony and, I think, it gives each participant perhaps their first taste or recognition that the Catholic Church, which they are preparing to join, is a much larger communion than simply one's own parish. The Church is truly universal and the elect (I imagine) can't help but think of that as they are gathered with hundreds of others going through the same process, and with the knowledge that our Cathedral is filled two other times with even more of the same. The Rite of Election is an opportunity as well for the elect to see and meet our Archbishop, who cannot possibly personally preside over the entrance into the Church of each of the elect at each and every parish. I think, too, the elect feel especially attended to by this ceremony, acknowledged and blessed in the journey that have undertaken.

Fr. Tharp's parish and mine both attended the second service of the day of the Rite of Election. You might think the diocesan authorities would make sure to separate us so that there would not be a CRM take over of the Cathedral, but apparently our threats have not been taken seriously. Will they never learn?

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