For me one of the most moving rites of the Catholic Church is the rite of acceptance of those who have not been baptized but seek to become members of the Church.
This rite was celebrated for four young people this weekend at the 10:30 AM Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames.
The inquirers waited outside the doors of the church – in the cold. Fr. Jon Seda invited the congregation to go with him to greet them and to lead them into the church. About 40 people, including a number of children, went and greeted them. Some continued to stand behind them as they stood before the altar.
The inquirers were called to embrace the cross which was brought among them.
They then gathered around the altar where their sponsors signed them with the cross – on the head, the ears, the eyes, the mouth the heart, the shoulders, and the feet.
I was deeply moved, especially as the sponsors knelt to trace the cross on their feet. People voluntarily putting themselves at the feet of others is a strong sign of the call to service. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and we are called to wash others’ feet as a sign of our taking on the yoke of Christ.
This year I led a catechists’ workshop on the Christian initiation rites and processes. To help the people understand we reenacted the rite of acceptance. The material they had didn’t have the signing of the feet, but I added it, since I consider it so important.
This weekend I am speaking at the end of all the parish Masses, sharing with the people the sense of mission that people have in the parish of Dulce Nombre de María in Honduras. They have much to teach the people here as they invite people in their villages to come to the Celebrations of the Word or to join a base community. They do “mission” and “evangelization” fairly well.
The people at St. Thomas Aquinas do good liturgy and the rite of acceptance is touching and can offer much to the people in Dulce Nombre as their sense of mission can inspire the people at St. Thomas.
Isn’t this what solidarity – and mutual love – can do?