For Alison (a catechumen), Stuart, Judy, Matt (who sadly couldn't come), Emma and Rory (all candidates) it was just as exciting, if not a little nerve wracking too. During the Rite each Catechumen (a person who has not been baptised in any other Christian church) goes with their Godparent-to-be to and gathers arounf the sanctuary, waiting for their name to be called when they meet Bishop Kieran and sign their name in the Book of the Elect. By doing this they formally proclaim their desire to enter into full communion with the Church this Easter. There were loads of people in the group at the front and a very healthy, long queue to sign the book. And as if that wasn't fantastic enough there were even more candidates who were asking to be confirmed as Catholics this year. After the Bishop had been presented with the Book of the Elect each candidate's name was read out and they and their sponsor stood up. The list was incredibly long and you could barely see ahead of you for the sheer number of people. It was really, really fabulous to see.
In his homily Bishop Kieran said that this was one of the most special days in our diocese's calendar, a day that brought much joy, not just to the catechumens and candidates, but to everyone present and all those back in the parish communities. It was a time when you could visibly see that Catholics all over the diocese of Arundel and Brighton truly were witnessing to the gospel in their towns and families, were showing the light and love of Christ to others, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere so that anyone who felt that beautiful, loving, gentle call from Christ could answer it and honestly feel like they were "coming home." As I sat and watched all the different people signing their names and standing up and then meeting the bishop again at the end it made me see just how potent the Holy Spirit is in the lives of so many people, despite our culture becoming increasingly (and aggressively) secular he still moves hearts, draws people to the Father and to Jesus Christ. It's spine-tingling stuff you know! It also goes to show just how important our own witness is, if we don't share our faith then we can't expect there to be future Rites of Election or Easter Vigils with baptisms and confirmations. The more we show our love for Christ, no matter how difficult it may seem to be at times, the more people will come to know him too.
And now for a few piccies from yesterday...
|Sue (left, sponsor) with Judy (right, candidate)|
|From left to right; Alison (catechumen), moi and Cathy (catechist)|
|From left to right; Cathy (catechist and sponsor), Bishop Kieran|
and Emma (candidate)
|Justina (left, sponsor and fiancee) with Rory (right, candidate and fiance)|
|From left to right; Alison (catechumen), Bishop Kieran and me|
|From left to right; Bishop Kieran, Sue (sponsor), her daughter, Judy (cadidate),|
and her children
Please, please pray for Alison, Stuart, Judy, Matt, Emma and Rory this Lent and Easter. It's a very exciting and intense time of preparation for them and for us as a community too.