Sunday, February 08, 2009

On their way to Baptism

Enrollment of Catechumens at Sunday Mass

Three young people, Anna, Djhoti and Helena were received and welcomed at Sunday Mass at Newman House on 8 February. At the beginning of Mass, at the door of the Church, they were asked for their names, and what they wanted! This is not as rude as it sounds, but represents their being outside the Church and their desire for entry to the Church through baptism. Their answer was "Faith". They were then signed on the forehead with the sign of the cross, and presented with a crucifix, the sign of our salvation, and led into the body of the Church.

Before the Mass readings began, they were again called forward and presented with a Bible, the Wisdom which we as Christians are called to heed. They were encouraged to listen attentively to the Word of God, speaking to them in the Scriptures.

After the Gospel and a short homily, they were again called forward for the Prayer of Exorcism. Throughout the period of preparation for Baptism, the Church prays several such prayers of Exorcism over the catechumens, praying that all evil may depart from them and all goodness may fill their lives. They were then anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, that they may be strengthened for their pilgrimage to the font at Easter, when we look forward to their dying and rising with Christ.

In order to help them prepare for their baptism, they were then dismissed - not to go home but to spend time in refelection together on the readings of the day. They will do this each Sunday between now and Easter, led by Joanna, our Pastoral Associate. This was always done in the Early Church with those preparing for Baptism. Indeed, the first part of Mass was called the "Mass of the Catechumens", because they were present. The second part, the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion, was called the Mass of the Faithful, because the catechumens had departed and only the initiated faithful remained. These are the headings which appear in older Missals.

Pray for Anna, Djhoti and Helena as they prepare for the Great Vigil of Easter and their new birth in Christ!

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