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On 25th February, 350 candidates and catechumens gathered with their catechists and sponsors for the Rite of Election and call to continuing conversion at Westminster Cathedral. Cardinal Vincent presided, and was joined by Bishops Nicholas Hudson and Paul McAleenan, and Fr Gerard Quinn, Episcopal Vicar.
This joyful occasion in the life of the diocese is an opportunity for those receiving the sacraments at Easter to gather, meet with each other and their bishop, and pray for God’s protection and care. In his homily, Cardinal Vincent heralded it as a ‘day of joy and encouragement’.
This sense of youthfulness and vigour is comparable to Irenaeus’ reflections on the meaning of human life and faith at a time when the Church was in its youth: ‘In the beginning God created Adam not because he needed him but because he wanted to have someone on whom to bestow his blessings’.
‘This’, the Cardinal went on to explain, ‘is the glory of our lives: to persevere and remain in the service of God. We do not add to God’s glory but receive that glory’ and as Irenaeus says, ‘a human being fully alive is the glory of God.’
However, as the glory of God is also Jesus on the cross, the Cardinal asked, ‘how can this be glory and not degradation?’
Cardinal Vincent answered, ‘only in Jesus’ victory over death, which results in the shattering of our short horizons and opening of a far greater vision, revealing a new light and giving a grace for eternal light. It is this Easter celebration for which we are heading.’
It started with the sign of the cross on Ash Wednesday, which is a sign of our glory as God made each one of us so as to bestow on us his blessing. Using the hymn ‘Creator of the earth and skies’ for inspiration, Cardinal Vincent welcomed the candidates and catechumens on the path to Easter, asking God to begin ‘the work of grace’ in them.
After the homily, the deans called out the names of parishes in their deanery, and the 149 Elect and 201 Candidates of the 77 parishes present came forward to be greeted by the Cardinal and the Bishops. At the end of the service, the Book of the Elect was placed in the Baptistery of Westminster Cathedral where all visitors can pray for them as they journey towards Easter when they will receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion.