Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lent, Day 26

In the Catholic Church, we have another beautiful Lenten Tradition.  Adults who wish to become Catholic spend  a year or more preparing.   The culmination of their studies begins on the first Sunday of Lent when the Bishop of the diocese notes their readiness, and they become "the elect" of this year.  Then they spend the Lenten Season in prayer, reflection, and self scrutiny with the support of the members of the parish.  It's a very special period of preparation for the parish and the candidates.

The culmination is during the time we call the Triduum.  On Holy Thursday there is a chrism mass in each diocese.  The oils that will be used for the baptisms is consecrated and the priests renew their ordinal commitments.   They bring the oil back to their parish and  if there are any catechumens, it will be used on them first.   They become full members of the church either that evening at the washing of the feet  and Last Supper mass, or more often, on Holy Saturday when we celebrate the Easter Vigil.   The waiting is over and they receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

I made my first Holy Communion at a Holy Thursday Mass.   I didn't wait until May like the rest of my CCD class.  The symbolism of a First Communion on the same night that we were reflecting on the Very First Last Supper - Wow!   I'm sure that the adults who have had a much more intense preparation must feel very powerful emotions as they step forward.

I always knew the tradition, but now I really understand why it is done this way.