Rite of Election at St Patrick’s Cathedral, East Melbourne - Sunday 22 February 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Gospel to which we have just listened Jesus goes for forty days into the desert, disciplines his body by prayer and fasting and emerges with a commitment to his role as our Messiah and Redeemer.

In him God comes to our human hearts and lives, challenges himself to prepare for the mission God gave him and then comes as our Lord and Redeemer to open heaven for us when he went to the cross and rose from the dead.  God’s limitless self-giving for us is a reminder of the challenge we face, as this Lent we continue our journey towards Easter.

For many of you from today your journey will be different.  For many months you have shared in the prayers, talks and reflections of the Catechumenate.  Today we gather in the Cathedral, the mother church of our diocese, with the bishop who is the chief teacher and shepherd, to receive from the Church an official recognition of our choice and approval as a candidate for Baptism.

Together with your priests and catechetical teams you have deliberated on the step which you have taken and they have recommended to me that I accept you as the elect, chosen for Catechumenate, accompanied by your Godparents.  From today you are together asking for and aspiring to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, means by which Christ welcomes you into the Church and gives you the life by which we live in the gift of the Holy Spirit.  You are to be given the light of the Gospel.

This election is an official step on behalf of the Church, which recognises all that you have done, and highlights the new significant step which you are undertaking on your journey to Baptism or to reception into full communion.  Jesus Christ through the Church calls you out of darkness and uncertainty into his own wonderful light.  You are accompanied by people of great faith and love from your parishes who have brought you here and you are united with the bishop and priests and deacons of the Church, with all the elect, in moving to Baptism or Reception.

Those who have accompanied you are charged with a sacred charge.  In their lives they have to be faithful to the teaching of the Church in every detail.  They have to communicate their love for Christ through the Church and they have to lead you to the understanding and knowledge which accompanies faith and brings you to be ready for Baptism.

My dear friends, I wish at this special moment to assure you that in making this election I undertake the responsibility of praying for you that you may be ever deeper in your love of Christ and his blessed Mother, of the Church, its holy people and its saints, so that Jesus will lead you along the mysterious journey, reassuring you of his love for you and of his constant support through life’s journey.

May I thank those who have accompanied you as sponsors, whether for Baptism or Reception, the Catechumenate leaders in your parishes and the members of the Catechumenate team from the Archdiocese.

Today is a moment where we are called from darkness and uncertainty into the light that comes from Christ.  We frail human beings, uncertain about ourselves, know that our God has a unique love for us, which is common to every one of us, yet personal and gifted and calling us into everlasting life. 

‘Your ways, O Lord are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.’  In a mysterious way the Lord calls us into a special friendship as we prepare for Baptism.  It is a hope that reaches throughout your lives, a support of prayer and faith, which leads you on a journey to life eternal.  We do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.  May this life-giving word and the love and support of those who surround you help you to know that your affirmation of faith enriches the Church, challenges us in the journey forward, until the day when we will all be united with Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world now and forever.

+ Denis J. Hart,

Archbishop of Melbourne.

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