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SOUTH END — Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley began his homily at Rite of Election on Feb. 13 by telling a story of a man who went for a walk, and while enjoying the beauty of nature fell over a cliff but was able to grab onto a bush. He dangled dangerously over the ravine and cried for help, asking someone to save him. A booming voice told him to let go of the bush, and the man responded, “Is there anyone else up there?”
“The problem is that we are often trying to come to God on our own terms,” said the archbishop. “We need to come to God on His terms.”
The Rite of Election, celebrated at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross each year, takes place at the beginning of Lent as one of the final steps for those preparing to be welcomed into the Catholic Church at Easter.
Over 500 catechumens — those who have never been baptized — and candidates — those who have been baptized but wish come into full communion with the Church — attended the Rite of Election to prepare for receiving sacraments this season.
Lent is a time to reflect on our mortality and be “dead serious” because “God’s love is dead serious,” said Archbishop O’Malley. The season begins with readings about Jesus praying and fasting in the desert for 40 days and being tempted.
“The temptations in the desert were all about Jesus’ mission,” said the archbishop. “If you’re the Son of Man, you shouldn’t be hungry, you shouldn’t be unattended, you shouldn’t be powerless — those were the temptations of Jesus.”
But Jesus does not cling to His divinity, rather He empties Himself, conquers temptation and is obedient unto death, he added.
We too have a mission, and we too are tempted from it, he continued.
“We all have a mission that begins with our baptism. Our mission is one of discipleship — to follow, to imitate Jesus, and He’s given us a responsibility to make disciples of all nations,” Archbishop O’Malley said.
“Jesus’ temptation was about His mission,” he said. “The great temptation of the believers today is the very same. Many people are tempted to think that they have no mission.”
But, Jesus called His people to continue His mission, and Catholics must do that despite the fact that their religion becomes more “counter-cultural,” he said. They must have conviction and courage to live the Gospel and witness to it in their homes, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods.
Last year, the Catholic Church in the United States baptized over 1 million infants and 80,000 adults, the archbishop said.
“God’s love is still drawing people to Himself, still calling us all to conversion, to discipleship, to new life with the Lord,” he added.
Archbishop O’Malley concluded by welcoming the new members into the Church, offering prayers for them and congratulating them for responding to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
After the homily, catechumens and their godparents approached the archbishop and godparents testified that the catechumens were prepared for their upcoming Sacraments. The community was also asked to testify, and the catechumens were asked if they wished to enter fully into the Church. The catechumens then signed the Book of the Elect and returned to their seats. After, the candidates and their sponsors came forward and answered similar questions.
Following the ceremony, catechumens, candidates, sponsors and RCIA staff expressed their appreciation for coming together with others in the Archdiocese of Boston who are preparing for entering the Church.
Mary Wilkinson, a 13-year-old candidate from St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Hull, said she enjoyed “being with everyone else who wants the sacraments.”
Jamie Maher, who is sponsoring his wife, said that he appreciated being with the larger community. He said the experience made him “more excited about Easter.”
Mary Corrieri, who has been involved with the RCIA team at Holy Family Parish in Rockland for five years, said bringing together the smaller communities shows them that they are part of a larger community — the universal Catholic Church.