In less than two weeks’ time, we enter once again into the season of Lent. We typically think of Lent as a season of penance. Yet it is firstly the season when we focus on the preparation of those seeking Christian Initiation. Those of us already baptised engage in penitential practices so that we may join in solidarity with those preparing for the Easter sacraments.
Our parish’s catechumen, Michelle, will next weekend sign her name in the book of the elect, ready to be presented to the bishop at the Rite of Election. She is undertaking the journey towards Christian initiation. In the coming months, our young parishioners will continue their journey through Christian initiation through the sacraments of Confirmation and Communion. So what is this journey that they are taking?
The journey of Christian initiation is one of God calling people to conversion. It’s usually not an amazing, sudden revelation-kind of moment. It’s a gradual process that takes time. Time for people to listen to God speaking to them in their lives. Time for God to be present to them through the love, example and witness of others.
That gradual process of conversion then begins to take shape within the context of a faith community, as it is now with Michelle. The deepening relationship with God is more willingly expressed, and the community celebrates the continuing journey. Rituals such as the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, the Rite of Election, or the children’s commitment to prepare for First Communion are all such examples.
The completion of Christian initiation won’t be the end of their journey of conversion, though. Those who are initiated will join us completely in taking the journey together; facing the struggles, challenges, love and joy of belonging to God’s chosen people.
So the essence of Christian initiation, penance, and the Season of Lent are one in the same: God calling people to conversion. Let that be our centre throughout the coming weeks.