One of the key images of our transition from Lent to Easter is the light that pierces the darkness.
Our Easter candle stands as a symbol of the new life we celebrate in Christ. Normally this celebration is surrounded with the joy of welcoming new Catholics into the Church. This year is different in so many ways.
While we must postpone the receiving of sacraments this Easter, what remains is the light that shines in the darkness. Christ is already risen and the life he gives is very real. It is his life that pierces the darkness of uncertainty and gives hope.
For those preparing to join the Church, there is sadness and grief for sacraments delayed, but we can still anticipate the promise of God. There is a long history of catechumens facing struggle in their path to the Church. Many of the heroic martyrs from the early centuries of the Church were catechumens whose witness of faith made them part of the Church even while they waited for full communion.
The struggle of the present moment affects this year’s catechumens and candidates in a particular way, but they are already a part of the Church. They belong to this family of the Church by their intention to join us at the table of the Lord. Like all who are kept away from receiving the Eucharist their hunger grows. Such hunger can open the heart more fully to the grace that God still desires to give.
While we wait with eager anticipation we should help our catechumens and candidates experience this bond with the Church. Here are some suggestions that may help:
• Remind the whole parish of their continued journey by sending out their names in whatever communication you are currently using. Ask parishioners to remember them in prayer.
• Adapt the scrutinies and presentation of the Creed and Lord’s Prayer for use from a distance.
• If you are using streaming technology, set up a time to invite participants to join in that prayer.
• By email you could send out the wording of the prayers included in those rites and designate a certain time to join in prayerful reflections.
• Encourage sponsors to use technology and pray with their catechumens and candidates, especially using the Creed and Lord’s prayer at designated times.
• Participate by video in the celebrations of the Triduum and pray the prayer of spiritual communion in anticipation of later approaching the Eucharist for the first time.
• Emphasize the reading of the daily Mass readings during the transition from Lent to Easter to celebrate and pray with the Church to the extent that you are able.
Remember that in previous times of persecution or scarcity of sacraments the faithful have persevered in faith by the reading of Scripture and with prayer. God does not abandon his people and can always bring good out of every situation.
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart now with the expectant hope of Easter days.
Father Erik Pohlmeier is the diocesan faith formation director and pastor of Christ the King Church in Little Rock.
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