Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Catholic Defender: The Rite of Election

On the 13th of March in Austin Texas, we had nearly 2,000 people meeting the local Bishop to be received into the Catholic Faith as members of the Elect.

May those finding Christ find the peace and love from the people of God, to be strengthened in their faith.

The following is an article from a Florida Diocese. This Easter Vigil, there will be many people from all over the world that will be Baptized, Confirmation, the Eucharist. The Sacramental Grand slam!

Feature News

Becoming 'friends of God'

Archbishop welcomes catechumens as they reach final 40 days of journey to baptism

Monday, March 14, 2011
Marlene Quaroni - Florida Catholic
MARLENE QUARONI | FC Catechumen Lena Pereira signs the Book of the Elect as her sponsor, Candy Keener, looks on.

MARLENE QUARONI | FC Dr. Kenia Montero, left, and Iscarder Garcia, both 34 years old, were raised in Cuba, where they were discouraged from practicing religion. Now they are becoming Catholics and joining the community of St. Agatha Parish in Miami.
MIAMI — In honor of her religion, Lena Pereira named her son after a Buddhist monk, Bhodi-Dharma.

“He created the martial art of Kung Fu,” said Pereira, a fitness presenter and personal trainer who has practiced Buddhism most of her life.

Her father was a Buddhist and her mother practiced Christian Science. Her son’s father, Jose, also was a Buddhist. When they split, the single mother found herself going through a lot of stress. She said she chanted and meditated, but something was missing from her life. One day, she reached out to a neighbor.

“A car with a ‘Vote Pro-Life’ bumper sticker parked at a neighbor’s house caught my attention, as I often walked to a nearby park with my baby,” she said. “I was struggling with life and praying for guidance. One day, when I passed the house, the lady who lived there was outside and we started talking.”

The woman was Candy Keener and she asked Pereira if she would like to go with her to her Catholic church, St. Rose of Lima. Pereira recalled that she always had been fascinated “by the symbolism of the saints and the Virgin Mary.”

“Candy told me about the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and said that she would be my sponsor if I was interested,” said Pereira. “I was raised on the belief that many wars were fought in the name of organized religions. I took classes in college based on the myths of creationism. However, the first night that I went to the RCIA class, I thought, this is it; I’m in the right place.”

On March 6, Pereira and a number of others were officially welcomed as catechumens at St. Rose. The welcoming was one of several steps toward becoming a Catholic. At the Easter Vigil, Pereira and other catechumens will receive the sacraments of Baptism, Communion and Confirmation.

“I felt such a love for God that day,” said Pereira. “When I told God that I was sad because I couldn’t receive Communion, I felt a warm feeling on my forehead, as if touched by the Holy Spirit. God is a living being. It was shocking to me that I cried because I couldn’t receive the Body of Christ.”

This past Sunday, March 13, the first Sunday of Lent, Pereira was one of 489 catechumens (unlike candidates, catechumens have never been baptized) who took part in the Rite of Election ceremony at St. Mary Cathedral.

MARLENE QUARONI | FC Alessandro De La Cruz signs the Book of the Elect as his sponsor looks on.
During the rite, they sign their names in the Book of the Elect and are greeted personally by Archbishop Thomas Wenski. Because of the large number of catechumens, two separate ceremonies were held. The catechumens came from 69 archdiocesan parishes.

Pereira said she is surprised by the coincidences that have led her to Catholicism, especially coming across her neighbor with the religious bumper sticker.

“I call Candy my little angel,” said Pereira. “As all human beings, I have sinned, but now I have a higher spirit to tell me that I am forgiven.”

Pereira added that praying the rosary is similar to chanting in Buddhism. “The repetitiveness of the prayers is like meditating.”

Like Pereira, catechumens Iscarder Garcia and his wife Kenia Montero, of St. Agatha Church in Miami, also are on the path to Catholicism. They were married 11 years ago in a civil ceremony in Cuba. Garcia came to the United States eight years ago and Montero, a medical doctor, came here two years ago. They have an 11-year-old daughter, Maria Carmen.

“In Cuba, the government frowned on religion, so most people are atheists,” said Garcia. “Now, we feel happy because we are able to practice our spirituality out in the open.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski told the catechumens that by being enrolled in the Book of the Elect “you are saying you want to be holy … you are chosen to be saints.”

He cited the words of the New Orleans jazz anthem: “Oh, When the saints go marching in, Oh, When the saints go marching in, Lord, how I want to be in that number, When the saints go marching in.”

“Yes, today you are enrolled in that number, you are chosen to be saints, to be Zanmi Bondye, friends of God,” Archbishop Wenski said.

He noted that the 40 days of Lent are the time for “your final preparations … 40 more days to pray and fast, to find the strength to say ‘no’ to whatever contradictions remain in your lives that keep you from accepting the gift of baptism, from becoming a friend of God.”

“Remain steadfast in prayer and know that your Catholic brothers and sisters are praying for you, and awaiting with great joy your entry into the Church,” Archbishop Wenski told the catechumens. “Remember the words spoken over and over again in the Scriptures and repeated to us so often by Pope John Paul II: Be not afraid. Don’t be afraid to walk through life as a friend of God.”
MARLENE QUARONI | FC Archbishop Wenski carries the Book of the Elect bearing the signatures of the catechumens.

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