Archbishop Chia urges deeper understanding of Scripture and Tradition at Rite of Election
More than 1,000 people are set to join the Catholic Church this Easter.
A total of 962 catechumens (non-Christians seeking baptism) have been enrolled in the Book of the Elect and presented to Archbishop Nicholas Chia at the Rite of Election over two weekends.
Seventy-seven candidates (baptised Christians seeking full communion with the Catholic Church) also took part in a rite called the Call to Continuing Conversion.
They have been preparing for a year or more to receive or complete the Sacraments of Initiation since joining the various parishes’ RCIA or RCIY (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults/Youths) programmes.
One Rite of Election was held on Feb 16 at Church of St Mary of the Angels for the North and West Districts, and another on Feb 17 at the Church of the Holy Trinity for the City, East and Serangoon Districts.
The Mandarin Rite of Election was held at Church of Christ the King on Feb 24.
At the Rite of Election in English, Archbishop Nicholas Chia said the catechumens and candidates have “been chosen to join the community” that lives in a freedom of being able to reject temptation.
While temptations are “part of life”, Archbishop Chia said that through the Gospel story of Jesus rejecting the devil’s temptations in the wilderness, “God wants to tell us that it is not necessary for human beings to fall into sin”.
During the period of Lent, Catholics are purified and enlightened by Christ through their own “desert experience”, he said.
“This time should be dedicated to reflection and prayer” and to call out to God in trials, hardships and dangers. Drawing close to God can be done through Scripture, he said.
Catholics believe that “Scripture and Tradition are intrinsically linked”, Archbishop Chia said. “Therefore I encourage a deepening in our understanding of Scripture and our Tradition – particularly during this Year of Faith.”
He called for the study of the Bible with other believers and, more importantly, within one’s Christian community.
Archbishop Chia also said that the Christian faith is “not a private faith” and “has to be proclaimed”.
The Elect’s recitation of the Creed at baptism to the Catholic community is “their testimony to commit to a new life in and with Christ”, he said.
He assured those present of his prayers for them.
Mr Joshua Tan, 21, from the Church of the Holy Spirit, told CatholicNews that he is “anxious, nervous and excited” as he awaits his baptism.
He said he plans to prepare for this by praying with the church’s RCIY community.
Ms Maghesh, from St Joseph’s Church (Bukit Timah), who will take on the name of Agatha at baptism, said she is happy as she really wants to be close to God, and sees herself getting there.
Mr Gerald Zechariah Seow, 30, from Church of St Mary of the Angels who is already a baptised Christian, said he looks forward to receiving the Eucharist. He decided to embrace the Catholic faith due to its universality, he said.
Ms Clare Ng, also from St Mary’s, shared that she feels “happier, more at peace and closer to God”.
“Having been through the programme the past few months, you really feel the progression towards Christ, the closeness,” she said.
She said plans to spend time on reflection as she prepares for baptism, she added.
The Rite of Election refers to an understanding that God continues to choose people through the covenant of baptism, just as He established a covenant with Israel. The rite provides an opportunity for their names to be formally enrolled among God’s chosen people.
The Elect will now undergo the rite of Scrutinies during the Lenten season to help them examine their lives. The community will pray that the Elect be freed from temptations and be protected as they continue their journey towards baptism.
By Darren Boon