As Lent approaches, it seems appropriate to consider what first steps will be taken by those whom God is calling to join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. All members of the Reading group, and of the other groups in theboundaries of the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, are asked to attend the "Rite of Election" in St John's Cathedral, Portsmouth, at 11am on Saturday, March 12th.
The “Rite of Election” is an ancient ceremony for adults choosing to be Catholics. The ceremony sees both catechumens (those who are preparing to be baptised) and candidates (those who are already baptised) being “sent forth” by their bishops to prepare to be received in their Catholic parish churches at Easter.
At the heart of the Christian life is the understanding that each of us is called by God. We recall the words of Christ who said “You did not choose me; no, I chose you”. Not only does Christ choose, he also calls us and knows us by name. Both of these are encapsulated in the Rite of Election.
The Rite of Election is a significant step for those who are preparing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. Election in our contemporary culture often signifies a contest or our choosing something or somebody. The Rite of Election is not primarily about the candidates’ choice to become Catholics, but rather, as in the great scriptural tradition of election, it is about how God has chosen them to take aparticular path at this point in their lives. 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”.
The Rite of Election is celebrated by the local Bishop who chooses people - elects them - in the name of the Lord and of the Church. The call - the election - of the Church embodies in human voice the call of God to which the candidates have responded. They are then asked to express their response publicly and formally in the presence of the Church: “Do you wish to enter fully into the life of the Church?”. They respond, “We do”. The candidates then inscribe their names in the Book of the Elect. This signifies that they have heard God call their name, and wish to respond to his call to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.
A special part of the rite is being prepared for those entering the Ordinariate, and this will be made available in due course.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
God of love and power, it is your will to establish everything in Christ and to draw us into his all-embracing love. Guide us whom you have chosen to enter into full communion with Christ’s Vicar on earth. Strengthen us in our vocation, build us into the kingdom of your Son, and seal us with the Spirit of your promise. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.