Becoming Catholic doesn’t mean that life’s battles will cease. The newly baptized and confirmed will have some strong partners on their side though.

That’s the message a select group of children and adults preparing to receive the sacraments of initiation at the Easter vigil heard when they filled Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral Feb. 22 for the Rite of Election. They sat grouped by parish and listened to the Sunday’s readings just like they’ve been doing at local churches and missions across the Diocese of Phoenix for the past five months.

The Gospel reading recalled Jesus being led into the desert where Satan tempted Him. It was just after His baptism and Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted told the catechumens who became “the elect” that day, to expect similar struggles.

“You are in boot camp. You are being prepared for a lifelong battle, but you are well-prepared,” Bishop Olmsted said.

If you know you’ve always had an enemy and now know who is stronger than that enemy and who can fill your heart,” the bishop continued, then he declared that the 400-some catechumens who joined their sponsors and parish team members at the rite of election are ready for the great sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

(Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
(Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Brenda Jaime used similar language to describe her reasons for wanting to become Catholic.

“Whatever gap that you have you your life, God is the one to fill that gap,” said Jaime, who will be a parishioner at St. Augustine.

She said God brought her to the Church when she searched for something positive. She knew a little about it through her husband and his family. The couple is eager to one day have their marriage blessed by the Church.

Deacon Ken Porter has been teaching adults through Rite of Christian Initiation classes for years prior to his ordination in 2010. He said many, like Jaime, have a family connection that first sparks their interest in the Church, but they begin with very little as a basis of knowledge.

Classes often meet during the second part of Mass when students discus the readings. They also study the Bible, the commandments and the sacraments. This year, he introduced a new class on artistic icons, which also enabled his students at St. Thomas Aquinas to learn about the lives of saints.

Deacon Porter said he looks forward to the Easter vigil when a look of joy overcomes his students as they’re baptized.

“You are in boot camp. You are being prepared for a lifelong battle, but you are well-prepared.”

Bishop Olmsted called it a happy day for the Church and hoped that those receiving their sacraments of initiation feel welcome. He asked that their godparents sustain them in the coming weeks through their loving care and example.

They are in their final period of purification and enlightenment and will undergo a series of scrutinies throughout Lent intended to deliver them from sin, protect them form temptation and invite them more closely to Jesus.

“He made Himself one with us in our struggle against Satan. This is the love of solidarity, of accompaniment,” the bishop said.