As the First Sunday of Lent came to a close, Bishop J. Mark Spalding welcomed more than 100 catechumens from 25 diocesan churches, as they officially became the 2022 Diocese of Nashville Elect during the Rite of Election Sunday, March 6, at Sagrado Corazon at the Catholic Pastoral Center.
“Our Catechumens have been preparing at their particular parishes with their RCIA leaders and other volunteers to learn more about the Catholic faith,” said Jenny Haug, assistant director of catechesis for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. “This Rite of Election, it marks the beginning of the final period of preparation for them.
“This is the final step in showing that they are ready for the Sacraments of Initiation,” she added. “The Rite of Election always happens on the First Sunday of Lent, so it’s their own 40-day period of preparing their final ‘yes’ to the Church at the Easter Vigil.”
During his homily, Bishop Spalding said being Catholic is about knowing Jesus.
“Jesus Christ is the center of all that we are and all that is in the Church,” Bishop Spalding said. “Come to know him personally, come to know him through word, come to know him through sacrament, and that’s what we as Catholics do.
“We come to know Jesus, and then we introduce others to Jesus,” he continued. “We want them to come to a greater understanding of who and what he (Jesus) is by word and sacrament, celebrated within a community. Then, as we follow Christ, we’re sent out into the world to serve others. That’s the core of who we are.”
But the most important way of knowing Christ is through the Eucharist, he concluded.
“To know Jesus in the Roman Catholic Church, you must know him in the Eucharist, week in and week out,” Bishop Spalding said. “To not know him that way is to not know him in the way of the Roman Catholic Church.
“It is as simple as this,” he concluded. “Go to Mass every week. Go to Mass and know your Church.”
Following the homily, parish leaders presented their church’s Book of the Elect for Bishop Spalding to sign before he led the sponsors through the affirmation process and the Catechumens through the Act of Election. Then intercessions were offered for the Elect before Bishop Spalding offered a final prayer over them.
“Lord God, you created the human race and are the author of its renewal. Bless all your adopted children and add these chosen ones to the harvest of your new covenant,” Bishop Spalding prayed. “As true children of the promise, may they rejoice in eternal life, won, not by the power of nature, but through the mystery of your grace.”
Members of the Elect agreed that it felt good to make it to this point in their journey.
“It feels good that I can say that I know a little bit about the Church now because I didn’t know before,” said Elect Brenda Diaz of St. Philip Church in Franklin. Now, she said, she’s looking forward “to keep going to church and keep the faith growing for me and my children.”
Elect Deborah Traughber of Our Lady of Lourdes in Springfield and St. Michael Church in Cedar Hill,said it felt “wonderful” knowing she was that much closer to being able to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
“Even though I grew up Baptist, I’ve never been a member of a church, and I’ve never partaken of any of that,” she said. “I want to just keep growing in Christ.”
With the Rite of Election and the start of Lent, the Elect have entered into the final Period of Purification and Enlightenment before they’re initiated at the Easter Vigil, according to the website for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.