One of the principles that guided all of the efforts since the Second Vatican Council in the area of Liturgical Reform has been that the Church should return to her roots and rediscover the original inspirations and motives that brought about the ancient rites and prayers of the Church.
One of the outstanding fruits of this effort has been the reintroduction of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA, into the life of the Church.
Once again this year, we had our own celebration of the Rite of Election — the opportunity presented by the RCIA for the bishop to gather with the Catechumens and Candidates to call them to the reception of the Easter sacraments of baptism, Holy Eucharist and confirmation at the Easter Vigil.
The very origins of the Lenten Season hearken back to the ancient Church and her annual accompaniment of the new converts as they made their final preparation to enter the Church.
The rigors of Lent were meant to engage the whole Church in this important moment when new life and grace are lavished on the growing Church.
Each year, it seems that we are all becoming more and more aware of this dynamic of evangelization at the heart of the Lenten Season.
So now, on the First Sunday of Lent, once again the Rite of Election was celebrated in cathedral churches all over the world.
Sent from their parish churches across their diocese, those who have been responding to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the journey of faith received from their bishop the call to make the final step to become members in full communion with the whole Church by the reception of these Easter Sacraments after this year’s Lenten pilgrimage.
It was a joy to call over 300 Catechumens (now “Elect”) and Candidates for the Easter Sacraments, along with their godparents and sponsors, to join us in full communion when we celebrate Easter at the end of this season of Lent.
Keep them in your prayers
In that same ancient Lenten spirit, we added a new opportunity for evangelization back in 2004 — Vocation Reflection Day.
All of those preparing to receive the sacrament of confirmation are invited by our Diocesan Vocation Committee to participate in this day of reflection on Christian discipleship and vocations.
Sponsors and parents are also encouraged to attend.
Once again, we are expecting over 2,000 Confirmandi to take part in one of the three gatherings that will be taking place on the next three Sunday afternoons in the Cathedral of St. Joseph here in Jefferson City.
The candidates, sponsors and parents spend time listening to a priest, a religious sister, a married couple and parents of a priest or religious.
There are audiovisual presentations and a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament.
The Vocation Reflection Day is concluded with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist led by their bishop.
The reception of confirmation effectively marks the completion of Christian Initiation in the lives of these young men and women.
During the Rite of Election, the bishop, referring to the catechumens and candidates, asks the faithful to “include them in your prayers and affection as we move toward Easter.”
I ask that we also include our confirmation candidates in our prayers and affection during this holy season.
I am especially grateful to Father Greg Olegschlaeger, our diocesan vocation director, and his team of collaborators for their hard work in organizing these Vocation Reflection Days so that they can run so smoothly.
I am also grateful to Cathedral of St. Joseph parish for being such thoughtful hosts for this annual event and to all of those who accept the invitation to be presenters at the various workshops and break-out sessions.
Let us all rejoice in the wonderful young men and women who are receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit in their parishes this year.
A new bishop for Missouri
Finally, I ask you to join me in prayers of gratitude to God for the gift we have received in the Catholic Church here in the state of Missouri.
Last Tuesday March 7, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, appointed Monsignor Mark S. Rivituso, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, to become the new auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
He will be assisting Archbishop Robert J. Carlson in caring for the Local Church of the archdiocese and he will also be collaborating with all of us as one of the directors of the Missouri Catholic Conference.
I know Bishop-elect Rivituso will also be relying on your prayers as he undertakes this new and important ministry in the Church.