The sun shone for the catechumens and candidates (over 70 in total) as they arrived at St. Andrew’s Cathedral with their families and sponsors for the Rite of Election and Rite of
Recognition. Inside the Cathedral, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.
The St.Mungo Singers and Dr. Noel Donnelly on harp provided beautiful music as they gathered for the service which began with the Lenten Introit “He will call to Me”, as the Archbishop and priests of the Diocese processed to the sanctuary.
After the readings and the sung psalm (a new setting of Psalm 90 by Mgr. Fitzpatrick) Archbishop Tartaglia greeted everyone present and invited the catechumens and candidates (whom he had met briefly the day before) to join him on the sanctuary.
He expressed his great pleasure at the numbers present for this special moment – a point both of arrival and departure. He described it as an extraordinary and beautiful thing for them to take this step in the kind of world we are living in today. They were a witness to the fact that God is working in our world, they were miracles of grace, and so we give thanks to God for this.
This Rite takes place, he pointed out, in Lent because it is a time of special purification and preparation. Today’s Gospel shows us the Lord being tempted not to follow God’s plan, and in the Office of Readings today, St. Augustine comments that Christ is being tempted for us, so if we are tempted, we should take his example, be strong and follow God’s plan.
There followed the very simple yet moving rites in which catechumens, with their sponsors, are called forward by name to declare their wish to enter fully into the life of the Church and to sign the Book of the Elect, and the candidates are then called forward with their sponsors to the sanctuary to be recognised as wishing to enter into full communion with the Church.
During the singing of the Book of the Elect, the choir led the congregation in singing “Here I am, Lord “ and “Lord, you have come to the seashrore”, two hymns whose words were very fitting for the occasion. For the candidates, the hymn “We believe in God the Father” recognised that they are already baptised believers.
The service ended with the singing of the hymn for the Holy Year of Mercy. As the congregation left the cathedral for the Eyre Hall and an opportunity to talk and meet with Archbishop Tartaglia, the choir sang Botor’s joyful “Misericordias Domini”, a reminder that this was a happy and special day.