The candidates for the 2019 RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) received the sacraments of initiation, Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation last Easter Vigil presided by Most Rev. Ryan P. Jimenez, D. D.
This is the night that “shall be as bright as day” as proclaimed by the Exsultet, an ancient church hymn as we joyfully anticipate Christ’s Resurrection. Bishop Ryan emphasized in his homily the importance of the symbols used in the reception of the sacraments beginning with the Light from the Paschal Candle which symbolizes the light of Christ. “We share the light with each other as one community because we are lightened by Christ, the Risen Lord. The water that was blessed will also be the same water that we used as we renew our baptismal promises, a symbolic act of cleansing so that we may be made new and clean once again. The Chrism Oil that was blessed in the Chrism Mass last Wednesday that has fragrance of Christ. What we are celebrating is not just a ceremony, but we are all becoming soldiers of Christ challenged to live out the graces that we received and share it with others. The Bread and the Wine that will become the Body and Blood of Christ. We received the Lord who made Himself manifest in the bread and the wine. Indeed He is Risen! Christ is alive! He is here with us and will not abandon us!”
After the Liturgy of the Word, the three Catechumens accompanied by their godparents are presented to the parish community, who prayed for them with the Litany of the Saints. Next, the bishop blessed the water, placing the Paschal candle into the baptismal water. Then they renounced sin and professed their faith after which they were baptized with the bishop pronouncing the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
After the Baptism, the newly baptized are dressed in white garments and presented with a candle lighted from the Paschal Candle. They are then confirmed by the bishop who lays hands on their heads, and invokes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He then anoints them with the oil called Sacred Chrism. The Mass continues with the renewal of baptismal promises of the faithful followed by the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation of the other 21 Candidates. At Communion, the newly baptized receive the Eucharist, Christ’s Body and Blood, for the first time together with the other seven candidates.
The RCIA program of the diocese under the Faith Formation Ministry and the Office of Religious Education is its response to the growing number of people who grew up as adults without receiving baptism or without completing their Sacraments of Initiation (First Holy Communion and Confirmation). RCIA are for those in their twenties and above who obviously cannot be placed in the same classes with the teens. This is the second year that the diocese fully implemented the RCIA including the various stages (scrutinies) which are normally done in the Sundays of Lent leading towards the Easter Vigil.
To be part of the journey of faith of these 24 candidates was indeed a blessing! Given with only limited time for instruction, listening to their stories starting from the moment that they inquired, make-up classes that they have to comply especially after the typhoon, up to the last requirement of spending a day of prayer was indeed a moment of grace for each one of us. The Lord is indeed present. He never abandoned us and as a church, we are certain that He will still continue to do marvelous things for each of them through our prayers.