Once again it is that great season when catechumens (they’re the “elect” during Lent after the Rite of Election) are preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil. We stand before great and awesome mysteries. Throughout this Lent, let us pray for those preparing for baptism.
One of the graces of the Second Vatican Council is the revivial of a sacramentally-based program for the initiation of adult converts, the RCIA. By now the catechumenate is being developed in many denominations and traditions. The North American Association of the Catechumenate includes the Anglican Church of Canada, Episcopal Church, USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, and the United Methodist Church. The North American Forum on the Catechumenate is the Catholic organization. And TeamRCIA (thanks, Rita) gives great helpful resources for running the RCIA.
Some rough statistics for the US: Catholics baptize about 45,000-75,000 adults each year; the ELCA baptizes about 7,500 adults a year; and the Episcopal Church baptizes about 5,500 adults a year. But the US Catholic Church is huge, and that number of adult converts is less than 1% of adult members. ELCA Lutherans are at a bit over 1.5%, Episcopalians at almost 2.5%.
But you know, it’s not all about numbers. It’s about our faithful response to God who is all-loving and all-inviting.
Father of love and power,
it is your will to establish everything in Christ
and to draw us into his all-embracing love.
Guide the elect of your Church:
strengthen them in their vocation,
build them into the kingdom of your Son,
and seal them with the Spirit of your promise.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
–Prayer over the Elect, Rite of Election