On Sunday, March 10, at St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, catechumens began the final step of conversion to the Catholic faith, and candidates — those who have already been baptized — were called to continue their journey. That morning they had been sent from their parishes on the western half of the diocese to the bishop for presentation, and during the Rite of Election of Catechumens and Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades received them and signed his name in a book of enrollment provided by each of their individual parishes.
Following this step in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the catechumens were then considered “illuminandi,” or “those who will be enlightened,” Bishop Rhoades explained in his homily. He spoke especially to them, explaining the beauty and mystery of this next step of their lives. “Approaching this great mystery in your life, I pray that you will have true fear of the Lord and great trust in Him, hope for good things, hope for lasting joy and mercy. This is the hope that does not disappoint.”
He explained how the fear of the Lord is not being afraid of God, but rather “approaching God with deep reverence,” recognizing how great He is and how small we are before Him. “So allow yourselves to be conquered by God’s love! This is what really happens in baptism.”
The candidates preparing for entrance into full communion in Christ’s Church were about to enter into their final preparation, he noted.
“They will be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of confirmation. They will also become united with us at the table of the Lord, strengthened and nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ as our fellow pilgrims, brothers and sisters in the Catholic faith, journeying together to the house of the Father.”
The bishop encouraged both the catechumens and candidates “to be really spiritually focused during this upcoming season of Lent. Through prayer and reflection, be focused on what is about to happen in your life. You are preparing for something amazing, an encounter with God that is life-changing.”
“Catechumens and candidates, after receiving the sacraments of initiation, you will not be freed of afflictions or become exempt from suffering. But you will have the grace from God to endure suffering, the grace of the sacraments to sustain you and help you. You will have what St. Paul calls ‘the hope that does not disappoint.’ Hope has this confidence because the hearts of believers have been filled with the love of God. As St. Paul writes: ‘Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’
“May every step we take be a step closer and closer to God and to our neighbor!” he told them. “May Mary our mother and all the saints be at our side and pray for us as we strive to walk with Jesus to the Father’s house!”
Songs such as “Christ Be Our Light” were sung during the rite, reminding all of the source from whom all blessings flow. The readings were proclaimed bilingually, as many of the elect spoke primarily Spanish.
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