More than 300 affirmed for their journey of faith at the Rite of Election
Lent is a time to be renewed and the word itself is about springtime, new growth and new life, said Bishop Louis Tylka as he presided over the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion on Saturday, Feb. 25, and Sunday, Feb. 26, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.
Addressing the more than 300 people who are preparing to be received into the church at Easter, the bishop told them that they are the great symbol of Lent.
“As we are witnessing the new life that is growing in you in this journey of faith, it is you that we look to in this holy season and are all reminded that we are called to grow, to be converted, to be changed,” Bishop Tylka said. “And how wonderful that is.”
Each ceremony filled the cathedral with prayer, song and joy as the catechumens came forward to be greeted by Bishop Tylka and then take a place in the cathedral sanctuary. With the affirmation of their godparents and all present, Bishop Tylka turned to them and asked if they wished “to enter fully into the life the church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.”
“We are,” they replied.
Bishop Tylka declared them to be members of “the elect” and charged them to be faithful to God as he had been faithful to them and to “strive courageously to reach the fullness of truth.”
“HEAR THE LORD’S CALL”
Then the candidates — those seeking to complete their Christian initiation or who are preparing to be received into the full communion of the Catholic church — came forward to be greeted by the bishop and then take a place in the cathedral sanctuary. After being affirmed by their sponsors and the assembly, they heard from Bishop Tylka.
“Join with us in a spirit of repentance. Hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to your baptismal covenant,” he said.
Each time, Bishop Tylka led the applause for the catechumens and the candidates before they returned to their seats.
At the end of the ceremony, Bishop Tylka returned to the sanctuary to sign each parish’s Book of the Elect and pose for photos.
The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion takes place within the Liturgy of the Word. The readings were in English and Spanish, with Terri LaHood, staff assistant to the Office of Evangelization and Faith Formation offering the first reading in English. Silvia Lopez and Alberto Vargas, both of St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish, proclaimed the second reading in Spanish.
Reading the Gospel were Deacon Gene Triplett of St. Philomena in Monticello and St. Michael in Bement on Saturday, and Deacon Dan Froelich of St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington, on Sunday.
GOD IS ALWAYS AT WORK
In his homily, Bishop Tylka called the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion a moment when the church gathers and affirms the reality that God is at work.
“We pray for our catechumens and candidates that you will continue to have that stirring of faith in your hearts, to be able to look at yourself and those around you in order to see the face of Jesus in your life and to know how powerful it will be when you receive those Easter sacraments. . . .” — Bishop Tylka
But being converted to Christ is not a “one and done” moment in our lives, he explained.
“For most of us it is a slow process, again knowing that the Lord is working in our hearts and in our lives,” Bishop Tylka said. “We wake up to that reality. We get in touch with the power of grace. We sense that the Holy Spirit is calling us to live more — more for Christ, more for our Savior, more as a disciple.”
Disciples are called to accompany one another and the bishop called everyone to be those companions for the people who are preparing to celebrate the Easter sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist at the end of Lent.
“We pray for our catechumens and candidates that you will continue to have that stirring of faith in your hearts, to be able to look at yourself and those around you in order to see the face of Jesus in your life and to know how powerful it will be when you receive those Easter sacraments and to know the Lord is going deeper,” Bishop Tylka said. “And in that encounter you are becoming more like him, so you can go out and give witness and accompany and give others the same opportunity that you have now taken to experience Jesus. Because when we live in, with and for him, oh how wonderful it is, how powerful it is, to know that the Lord our God is still at work.”