The Elect are about to join the royal priesthood, and it is time to start getting them used to their royal status. Here are nine ways to help the Elect enter more fully into their preparation for baptism and Eucharist.
- Chauffeur them. At a recent Election Rite, a candidate was late for the liturgy because she dropped off her kids—and her godparent—and then went to park the car. She arrived soaked because it was raining. Bestow blessings on the Elect in your community. Be sure their godparents drive them to and from all the rituals of the lenten season and the Triduum.
- Wine and dine them. The Elect should be in parishioners homes for dinner at least once a week during Lent. And folks in the parish can be delivering hot meals to the homes of the Elect at least a couple times a week. Relieving the Elect of the cooking duties frees them up for the essential prayer and reflection they should be doing.
- Rehearse the godparents. Don’t burden the new royalty with having to remember all the complex actions of the Election Rite, the Scrutinies, the Holy Saturday Preparation Rites and the Vigil. Put that burden on their godparents, and let the Elect relax and enter into the prayer.
- Do make them come to all the rites. Royalty do have public duties after all. The duties of the Elect in the lenten season are to enter fully into the dialogue of worship. This is for their own spiritual growth, but just as importantly, it is also for ours. We are reminded of our commitment when we see newcomers taking up the cross.
- Don’t skip the Holy Saturday Preparation Rites. Make it an hour, a half day, or full day retreat. This is a really important step in the process. There are lots of options to be found at RCIA 185 and following. Adapt what you find there and add in other elements that have worked well for your parish at youth or Cursillo retreats. Invite the whole parish, but “require” the godparents, catechists, and family members to be present.
- Proclaim a fast. RCIA 185 also says the Elect “should refrain from their usual activities, spend their time in prayer and reflection, and as far as they can, observe a fast.” Remember, this is an extension of the Paschal fast that began on Good Friday. When the royalty fast, of course, so should everyone else. Make sure the whole parish is invited to fast and pray in solidarity with the Elect.
- Party, party, party. I have been to one too many Vigils that ended with the final blessing and everyone heading home. If the Elect, and the parish, have really been fasting for two days, throw a banquet! Sure, it’s late and everyone is tired. But it’s only once a year. More importantly, it is once in a lifetime for the Elect. Make it night to remember forever.
- Show up on Easter morning. This is so important for the “new evangelization” that Pope John Paul II talked about. Lots of Catholics only show up on Easter. What will they think if the Elect, still smelling of chrism, show up in their white garments along with hordes of weary revelers who have been celebrating all night long? It will certainly make the once-a-year crowd sit up and take notice of a Catholicism they might have written off as too stodgy.
- Keep in touch. I am not a big fan of guilting the Elect into showing up for eight more “classes” after Easter, but I do think the godparents ought to be getting them to Mass for every Sunday of Easter. Vacations and trips need to be postponed and rescheduled way in advance to make sure this happens. And, again, parishioners need to be inviting the Elect to their Memorial Day barbecues, Mother’s Day parties, and Fishing Opener camping trips.