Lent is truly a “special” time in the journey of every baptized Christian, as we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the holiest week in the liturgical calendar. If it is a special time for us, it is absolutely an important time in the journey of our catechumens and candidates who have been faithfully preparing since October to be fully accepted into full communion of our wonderful faith at the Easter Vigil.
This past Sunday, the Second Sunday of Lent, the catechumens (those not yet baptized or confirmed) and the candidates (those who have been baptized and who are preparing for Confirmation and Eucharist) were “sent” to Bishop Haines to judge their state of readiness to proceed towards the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The Bishop, through the affirmation of catechists and sponsors, “elects” to accept them to continue in their preparation. Once accepted, the catechumens are now the Elect in the eyes of the Church.
The next step in their journey occurs over the next three Sundays, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent. The special initiation rites that our two Elect will take part in are known as “The Scrutinies.” This is a rather foreboding title, but these are rites that have been part of our formation for centuries. In the early Church, bishops would examine (scrutinize) a catechumen who was preparing for baptism to see if that person was acceptable for the sacrament. If the candidate was “acceptable,” the Bishop would lay hands on the person in a Rite of Exorcism to rid the person of the power and sin of the devil.
In the “Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults,” the rite is explained as: “The Scrutinies, which are solemnly celebrated on Sundays and are re-enforced by an exorcism, are rites for self-searching and repentance and have above all a spiritual purpose. The Scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the Elect; to bring out then strengthen all that is upright, strong and good. For the Scrutinies are celebrated in order to deliver the Elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. These rites, therefore, should complete the conversion of the Elect. And deepen their resolve to hold fast to Christ and to carry out their decision to love God above all.”
As these rites are celebrated over the next three Sundays, it is an invitation for all of us to reflect upon the journey these Elect are making during Lent and use them as an inspiration and source of renewal as we go forward on our own Lenten journeys.
Please join us in prayerful support of our Elect and also our candidates as they continue their preparation towards the Easter Vigil sacraments.
The RCIA Team
Ray and Diane Schroeder
John and Cindy Bourne