March 7, 2021
Our Elect have now entered a time of intense spiritual preparation for their initiation into the Church. This is a time of deep reflection and prayer which is intended to draw them ever more deeply into knowledge of Christ and the ways of following Christ in their lives.
Over the next three weeks, at the 10:30 am liturgy, we will be celebrating the second step in the preparation of our Elect for their initiation. This second step is called the Scrutiny Rites. These Rites mark the maturation of their faith as they enter their final preparation for baptism. The Scrutiny Rites include aspects of self-searching and repentance and are meant to help the Elect uncover and name those obstacles in their hearts that stand between them and God. They are meant to help them heal these and then strengthen all that is upright and good. The Scrutinies are reinforced by an exorcism, the laying on of hands and intense prayer. Over these next few weeks, we will walk with these Elect as they continue their conversion that will lead them to their baptism at the Easter Vigil.
Often, when we hear terms like “scrutiny” and “exorcism” we think something negative or harsh or something that penalizes someone. That is NOT what is happening here. Think of these three rites as graced moments of intense prayer where those to be baptized, with the support of the community may examine those things in their lives that act as stumbling blocks in their relationship with God, and through prayer they are able to overcome these and more deeply enter into a graced encounter with the Tri-une God.
You are Part of the Scrutiny Rites!!
Here are three ways you can participate:
Since initiation is the responsibility of all the baptized, journey with the Elect through your own participation in these prayers. Keep in mind that our own faith journey follows in the footsteps of the Elect. They are asking to be set free from all that will prevent them from dying and rising in baptism, from experiencing the grace of anointing and the transforming reality that is the feast of the Eucharist. So, the first way that we, the assembly, participate in the Scrutinies is to ask for that same freedom from all that holds us back from fully living out our own baptism, our own anointing and our own transformation at the Table.
The second way we better participate is to enter deeply into prayer for the Elect. One of the truths of the spiritual life is that the closer we try to draw to God in Christ, the more powerfully the temptation to do otherwise intervenes. For the Elect, this is an especially important struggle as they prepare for initiation and we help them overcome it by our prayer, during the Scrutiny Rites, and throughout each week. Learn their names. Pray for them by name daily.
Finally, the third way to participate more deeply in the Scrutinies flows from understanding that the Church acts as “mother” in her relationship to the Elect. They are being born into a new life, and during this final period of preparation, we who are the Church “mother” them. This tender care takes many forms. We have already spoken of praying for them and with them throughout the weeks leading up to the Easter Vigil and during the Scrutiny Rites.
This is also the time to greet them, to learn their names and to plan to journey with them through the Triduum and beyond. It’s the time to plan to attend the Easter Vigil and the reception, to welcome them fully into their new lives in Christ. And it’s the time to begin to consider how you will participate in nurturing their new life. They become newborns in faith, neophytes in the Church’s language, and our care and support is even more important.