Sunday, February 20, 2005

Rite of Election 

The day opened cold and full of heavy snow, a sign of how early this process comes this year. My sponsor and I drove to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception early because we'd been warned the church would be full. Here is a picture from the Cathedral, you can click on it to enlarge it:
Fort Wayne Cathedral

The Cathedral is beautiful. The stain glass windows have deep hues to which pictures just won't do justice. Very large carvings of the Stations of the Cross adorn the walls on both sides of the Cathedral, and a fantastic pipe organ takes over the whole balcony.

The Bishop came in all on his own, without any entourage, just walking down the side aisle and up to the alter where all the area priests were gathering to read our names. Here's a picture of Bishop D'Arcy I took after we were done. Again, you can click on it to enlarge:

Bishop John D'Arcy

The Bishop wore his tall red hat (a miter) and he walked with a long stick, like a shepherd's crook (a crozier). Under his miter, the bishop wore another, smaller red hat (a zucchetto), like a jewish kippah. He was quite a sight. The bishop sat in a chair that reached to the top of one of the pillars of the cathedral (you can see it to the left of the alter in the first picture). The songs were beautifully sung and we had first, second and third readings, just like at Mass. Our first reading was Ezekiel 36:23-28, our second reading was 1 Peter 3:18-22, and the gospel was John 15:9-17. Some of the readings were done in Spanish and some in English. The pew behind us had Vietnamese candidates and, indeed, some of the announcements were in Vietnamese, as well.

After the readings, Bishop D'Arcy addressed us. He talked about God's calling us being a thing of "Interiority." Perhaps it was our family or our friends or our priest or our parish who drew us to this day of Election, but they were all God who was working through them and within us. God draws us, but our free will remains to accept or reject Him. After the Crucifixion, the Apostles were craven, driven apart, afraid -- but after the Holy Spirit was breathed out on them, they were brave, they preached all over the world under pain of death. Bishop D'Arcy said this is all about an intimacy between us and God, and we'll get even closer after we share the Eucharist. God's intimacy is a gift won, given to us at great cost -- the crucifixion of the Lord, suffered for us that we might live. Going on, the Bishop said that our past religious experience in other churches is not being thrown away, our past is what brought us here, our past religious experience was God working in our lives. He talked about how the Ezekiel reading shows God's grace giving us a new heart, an unselfish, giving heart.

Even though the Bishop is quite old, his voice was very strong. Next, the Catechumens' names were all called, one by one, and they and their sponsors walked up to shake the Bishop's hand and stand at the alter. Here's a picture of when they were all up there:


We all said prayers over them and then it was our turn to rise at our name and meet the Bishop, which was a wonderful experience. It was nice to hear the voice of our own priest calling out our name among the hundreds present. My sponsor followed me up, his hand on my shoulder, and I shook the Bishop's hand. We all stood around the alter as name after name was read, each name came up with sponsor in tow, to stand with us. Bishop D'Arcy questioned our sponsors about whether we were ready, then he asked the whole church to pray for us and for all the Elect as we go through the Scrutinies and prepare for Easter.

It was a long day, and cold and crowded, but well worth it. Next stop: The Scrutinies.

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