Bishop Johnston welcomes 311 at Rites of Election

Neiah Stanley shakes hands with Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., after signing her name in the Book of the Enrollment at the Rite of Election. (photos courtesy of Jim Cleary, St. Charles Borromeo Parish)

KANSAS CITY — The Leap weekend, Feb. 29 and March 1, was especially notable in the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph as 311 men, women and children — 127 catechumens and 184 candidates — entered into preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. They, their godparents and sponsors were greeted, and the Catechumens signed the Book of Enrollment during two ceremonies at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City and one at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in St. Joseph.

Bishop Johnston began his homily with, “Greetings to all of you who are catechumens and candidates, and to all of you who are accompanying them from each of our parish communities in the Diocese.

“This Rite of Election and Enrollment of Names marks an important moment. You catechumens and candidates are concluding the lengthy time of formation of mind and heart and now you will begin the more intense preparation for the sacraments of initiation. Over this time you will be encouraged to follow Christ with greater generosity.

“Today, many of those who are present are going to give testimony on your behalf, and the Church will make a judgment on your readiness to advance to the sacraments.”

He continued, “Over the past week, one of the big topics in the news has been the coronavirus. Questions are being asked: ‘Where did it come from?’ ‘How do you catch it?’ ‘What is the mortality rate?’ ‘Is there to be a cure?’

“Interestingly enough, the same questions could apply to sin as to the coronavirus: ‘Where did it come from?’ ‘How do you catch it?’ ‘What is the mortality rate?’ and ‘Is there to be a cure?’

“I point this out because the readings today answer those questions.

“Where did it come from? The first reading from Genesis tells us where sin originated: at the beginning, with the first human beings, freely chosen and edged on by the deception of the great enemy of God and the human race, Satan.

“How do you catch it? and What is the mortality rate? Well, it’s inherited. All human beings are infected from the moment we come into being at conception and Sin leads to death. Without a cure, the mortality rate is 100 percent. St. Paul addresses both of these questions in the second reading today: ‘Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.’ (Romans 5:12) We might call this the bad news.

“Is there a cure? Yes, and this is the very good news. St. Paul also speaks about this in the second reading. He assures us that even though sin and death came to all of us through one man, Adam, it is true now that the grace of salvation is available to all through one man, Jesus Christ. He says, and I quote: ’For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, though the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.’

“Of course, St. Paul is speaking of Jesus, the obedient Son who comes to do the will of God the Father. Jesus is set before us in the Gospel reading today, and what is the setting? Just as Adam and Eve in the first reading, He is contending with the enemy. But in contrast to them, He remains obedient to His Father and rejects the temptations of the devil.

Bishop James Johnston, Jr. greets Aluil Thuc at the Rite of Election Feb. 29 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

“The bottom line: Jesus Christ is the cure for sin and death. We cannot make ourselves better, cure ourselves, or save ourselves through self-medication or self-help programs. As Scripture says of Jesus, ‘…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).

“Which brings us to today. You catechumens have come to faith in Jesus Christ. You realize your need for Him as your Savior. You are preparing to have the guilt of your sins washed away and receive the new life of sanctifying grace in baptism, then receive the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, and the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

“It is through the sacraments that Christ arranged for us to enter into the life of the Holy Trinity and the Kingdom of God and leave the Kingdom of death which we inherited from Adam. The Catholic Church refers to this as the ‘economy of salvation,’ which is a fancy way of saying that the sacraments are the path that God, in His wisdom and genius, has designed for us to receive the gift of salvation in Christ.

“Candidates, you have already been baptized and so have already started down this path. But you want to continue with the grace of God given through confirmation and Holy Eucharist, and by entering the full communion of the Catholic Church.

“And so, we thank God for you catechumens and candidates and for what He is doing in your life now. You remind us all that salvation is a gift which we don’t earn but that we must accept and embrace with faith. We pledge to you our help and our prayers as our brothers and sisters. We look forward to your entrance into the Family of God, which the Church is.

“One final note for all of us. The Gospel story of Jesus contending with Satan in the desert is set before us all. It reminds us that once we leave the kingdom of death and enter new life in Christ and His kingdom, we must never go back. Once we belong to Christ, we must enter the spiritual battle with Him, relying on Him. We must always reject sin, repent, and live a life of obedience which expresses itself in love.

“May these days of Lent be filled with grace for all of us and especially for you catechumens and candidates as you make your final preparation for the Easter sacraments.

“May we all be counted, in the words of St. Paul, as ‘those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of justification and come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.’ (Romans 5:17) Amen.”

The Catechumens’ names are inscribed in the Book of the Elect during the Rite of Election and are then greeted and welcomed by the Bishop. They will be baptized at the Easter Vigil, receive the Eucharist and be confirmed that evening.

The Candidates, those who were baptized into Christianity but had not received the sacraments of Confirmation or Eucharist, are also greeted by the bishop. They will receive the Eucharist and be confirmed at the Vigil. The Easter Vigil will be celebrated April 11.

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Wednesday
December 02, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph