Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Rite of Election

Isn't this church beautiful?  I took this photo on Sunday afternoon when I had the joy of attending the Rite of Election at the cathedral in downtown Denver. 

And what is the Rite of Election, you ask?  Well, people joining the Catholic Church do so at Easter Vigil, after several months of classes and preparation.  And each year during Lent the Archbishop holds an event at the cathedral where those joining the Church are formally recognized, and go forward to shake his hand. 

We of course are already Catholic, and so primarily attended the Rite of Election to support the people in our parish who are about to enter the Church.  (And I'm actually the sponsor of a dear friend who is becoming Catholic.  Which makes me so, so happy.)

Sunday was my first time visiting the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.  And it was beautiful.  Stained glass, white marble, lovely statues.

But as stunning as the Cathedral was, the best part of the afternoon was seeing person after person after person have their name called and go forward.  Many of these people are new to the Christian faith in general.  Others were previously baptized in another tradition, and are about to become Catholic.  All of that to say, there were so.many.converts.  And the people we saw on Sunday only comprised 25% of our own diocese.  (They hold four ceremonies in Denver in order to accomodate everyone.)  Imagine how many dear souls are joining the Church worldwide this Easter?!

I would love to have known each person's story, each unique journey into Christ's Church.  Because no doubt they are all amazing.  And I know from my own story that it is oh-so-sweet to finally come "home". 

It still kind of astounds me that for thirty whole years, I was on the outside.  For three long decades I lived out my faith the best I knew how, virtually unaware that Jesus gives Himself to us in the Eucharist and that He established His Church for you and for me.  Because in spite of being a devoted, lifelong Christian, I never ONCE gave the Catholic faith any serious thought.  Nor did I ever wonder what exactly as a Protestant I was protesting!

As I look back I can now see that my faith more or less existed in a historical vacuum--while it was real and vibrant and genuine and yes, legitimate, it was not anchored in any sort of context (save for my own personal interpretation of the Bible, which would naturally change based on what Christian book I was currently into).  And even in spite of reading through the New Testament various times, I missed a bunch of stuff.  Like the verse that refers to the Church as "the pillar and foundation of the truth".  Or the passage where Jesus gives authority to Peter and the other apostles to do stuff like forgive sins. 

I missed all of those things as a Bible-believing Christian because, quite frankly, they did not fit with the Protestant narrative.

But God is all kinds of awesome.  And He wasn't content leaving me where I was at.  And as a result, I now receive Jesus in the Eucharist each and every Sunday. 

And it's funny because I never would have imagined that I'd eventually find myself downtown at the Cathedral on a sunny March afternoon with my husband and one of my best friends, witnessing hundreds of men, women and children coming into Christ's Church.  A visible, tangible reminder that Jesus (and His mother Mary too!) is beckoning each and every one of us to join His family, no matter where we've been or what we've done or who we are.  

My heart is so very encouraged this week, and I hope yours is too.  Because God is working in our world, as He has always done, and hearts are being drawn to Him and to His Church.  Entire lives are being reborn, and I was privileged to have a small but glorious glimpse of that this past Sunday.  What an amazing gift.

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