‘You will belong to Christ’ bishop says at Rite of Election

Bishop Carl A. Kemme welcomes one of the nearly 300 candidates and catechumens who took part in the Rite of Election Sunday, Feb. 26, at St. James the Greater Church in Augusta. (Advance photo)

Bishop Carl A. Kemme told those taking part in the Rite of Election Sunday, Feb. 26, at St. James the Greater Church in Augusta, that when they receive their sacraments they would belong to Christ.

“On the day of your baptism, confirmation, and Holy Communion, you must realize that your life will no longer be your own,” he said, “it now will belong to Christ, who though Lord and master of our lives, is no destroyer of human freedom or integrity, but rules over us benevolently and with great love and compassion, calling us each day to follow him and to trust in his great plan for our happiness.”

Standing-room-only at Augusta

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd, the bishop said he longs to witness how much those to be baptized and those to be confirmed will enrich their parishes and the diocese with their worship, prayers, and generous sharing of their time, talent, and treasure as a response of stewardship, which is what so defines those in the Diocese of Wichita.

It won’t be without hurdles, Bishop Kemme said.

“You must also realize, dear friends, that the faithful and trusting disciple of Jesus has an ancient foe, the devil, who desires nothing more than to thwart God’s plan for us by tempting us to abandon the church and her life-giving sacraments,” he said.

“The devil tempts us, again and again, to forsake God’s blessings which are true but also mysterious in favor of the pleasures of this world that last only for a time and leave us more and more unsatisfied. Never listen to his lies. Resist him at every turn with the help of Christ, who as we heard in the Gospel allowed the devil to tempt him so that we might witness his victory.”

Remain in the church’s embrace

Always remain in the church’s embrace, Bishop Kemme said, and stay close to the heart of Christ through prayer, faithful Sunday worship at Mass, frequent confession, and consistent service.

“In doing so I promise you that you will never be far from divine assistance that you will need not only to resist the devil’s cunning temptations but also to fulfill your part of the mission of Christ entrusted to you, which is to be his faithful witness in this passing and troubled world so that you will come at last into the glory he has in store for you for all eternity.”

The bishop said he looks forward to the rite because it reminds him that the Lord is truly at work – even centuries after Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and ascension, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The Gospel is revolutionary

“The witnesses of that first century sacred moments went forth and proclaimed Christ to everyone who would listen and invited them to come and see and to be a part of the greatest revolution the world has or ever will know, the revolution of the Gospel,” he said.

The response of the catechumens and the candidates taking part in the rite is a reason for joy and hope, the bishop said, adding that as members of Christ’s mystical body, the church, they are called to journey together until they reach their goal in life, to be with God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

“On that night of the Easter Vigil, you (catechumens) will take your rightful place among us as beloved sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, washed from sin and baptized in Christ, anointed with the Holy Spirit and nourished at the table of the Savior,” he said.

Call others to discipleship

“With the presence of the Triune God within your souls, now and for all eternity, you will take up the mission of the church, which is to call others into lifelong discipleship with Christ. You will be sent out at each Mass you attend, to go forth faithfully to preach the Gospel, not so much by words, but mostly by deeds, sent to all God’s children and to evangelize today’s culture, which has, by and large, lost a sense of God, direction, values and priorities.”

That is why Christians exist, he said, to win every soul for Christ, so that they, too, can experience becoming fully alive as one of Christ’s missionary disciples.

It will take apostolic courage to do so, Bishop Kemme said.

“A courage marked by zeal and determination – in spite of incredible obstacles and opposition – the kind of courage that was so evident in the lives of the first apostles, who after Pentecost burst forth into the world animated by joy and strength they on their own did not possess, ready to go wherever the Lord would send them to witness to the Resurrection and to proclaim that there is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. May that same joy and courage flood each of our hearts as we embrace more fully each day this our way of life.”

The bishop welcomed 145 catechumens, those who are unbaptized, and 146 candidates for reception into full communion at the rite.