Christian life is a journey and adventure, bishop says

Bishop Carl A. Kemme welcomes catechumens during the Rite of Election on Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. (Photo courtesy Teresa Marshall-Patterson.)

Christian life is a journey and an adventure, Bishop Carl A. Kemme told those taking part in the Rite of Election Sunday afternoon Feb. 18, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

It is a journey, he said, “for it is a movement of the body, mind, heart, and the soul toward God, toward God’s truth, and toward God’s life. I also like to describe the Christian life as an adventure. We human beings, whether we recognize it or not, love and are drawn to adventures, and that is because by nature we are seekers, discoverers, and explorers.”

The adventure begins

The adventure will begin for the elect at their moment of baptism, the bishop said. “For in this moment, God comes to take possession of our souls and it is God who leads us forth, washing away by the flood of his love and grace the sins of our lives, transforming us into his beloved sons and daughters with sacred dignity and with a destiny that will find its fulfillment not here but in the kingdom of heaven.”

One hundred forty-four persons of all ages took part in the Rite of Election, which takes place each year on the first Sunday of Lent. Catechumens – those who are unbaptized – indicate their desire at the rite to join the church by signing the Book of the Elect, giving them the title “members of the elect.” It is also a discernment that God is present in their lives and is inviting them into a fuller life of the sacraments.

Bishop Kemme said he joined the priests, religious, laity, and those involved in the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults in thanking God for the catechumens who will be baptized, confirmed, and receive the Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil on Saturday, March 30.

“You are a sign to us of God’s enduring love. Each of you brings us hope and encouragement that the church, even though it sails on the tumultuous seas of our times, is alive and growing,” he said.

Jesus made water holy

The bishop connected the rite to Jesus’ life. “The flood waters of baptism, which Jesus made holy by his own baptism after he went into the desert for 40 days to be tempted by the devil, unlike the flood waters during the days of Noah, will destroy sin but not the sinner. We emerge from those waters renewed and ready to begin the great adventure of the Christian life.”

The catechumens, like those on every adventure and journey, will experience moments of calm and peace and moments of difficulty and turmoil, Bishop Kemme said.

“There will be times of temptation and defeat and times of victory and triumph. Happy times and doubtful times, times of great progress, and times of standing idle. All of this is as it was for all the saints, even Christ himself. There are mountains of sin and human weakness to climb and overcome on this adventure, seas, and vast territories to cross, but we make this journey and adventure, never alone.”

‘A cloud of witnesses’

The bishop, referring to the reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, said, “We have with us a cloud of witnesses, fellow pilgrims among the communion of the saints.”

Not only do the baptized become God’s beloved sons and daughters, he said, “they also become true brothers and sisters to each other, joining the great family of God, the church, a family that is given to us along with our natural family, to help us, to challenge us, to support us in the great adventure of Christian life.”

That family awaits the catechumens after their Lenten period of purification in the desert and wilderness.

Washed by the Holy Spirit

“Then at the Easter vigil, you will be washed clean, anointed with the Holy Spirit, and nourished for the first time at the table of the Lord,” he said. “What a glorious night this will be for you and for the church.”

The bishop closed his homily by sharing admonitions from two saints.

“St. Junipero Serra, a great missionary often said, ‘Adelante! Siempre adelante!’ which means, Forward! Always forward! and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frasatti, very popular with the young people of his time and today, himself a great mountain climber, both physically and spiritually, often said in his native Italian, ‘Verso L’alto! Verso L’alto!’ To the heights!

“And so, I say, let the adventure begin, let us all go together, forward, always forward! Let us all go together, to the heights.”