15 May 2011

15th May 2011 - 4th Sunday after Easter - Good Shepherd Sunday - Vocation Sunday

On this weeks show, we had our regular prayer space, our weekly reflection on the Sunday gospel, a quick run down through this up coming weeks Celestial Guides and a series of interviews with people who went through the RCIA programme and were received into full communion with the Church at Easter.

Of course if you missed the programme on air this morning, it is now available as a podcast on our Podcast Page

Gospel - John 10:1-10

This Sunday's gospel is one of the discourses from the gospel of John and is called the Good Shepherd discourse which is one of the reasons why today is celebrated as Vocation Sunday.

In Limerick we will be celebrating in the summer with the ordination of Ger Fitzgerald from Castleconnell but it highlights the the need for priests and religious in the church. All of us have a vocation to live out as baptised christians but as a Eucharistic community where the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and we need to pray and encourage vocations to the priesthood.

The pastoral ideal of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is a very appealing image but one which may be harder to grasp and understand in our very urbanised world. It is a comforting and one of the most ancient images of Jesus from the time of the Christians praying in the catacombs of Rome. At the sametime, the idea of being a "sheep" may not appeal to us as being an image of mindless group think just blindly following along behind.

As Michael de Vertuil reminds us, "Shepherd is one of the biblical titles for a leader, a memory of the days when the Jews were sheep rearing nomads. The passage therefore invites us to celebrate people who have "shepherded" us by touching our lives, some through direct contact, others from reading about them or hearing their stories. We remember, too, great world leaders, in modern times or in the past, and recognise that they were the presence of Jesus in the world, "shepherding" the human family. The passage can also be an examination of conscience on how we are fulfilling our vocation as parent, teacher, guide, friend, leader in the church community".

The idea of Jesus being the "gate" coming from the fact that the shepherds were the literal gates to the sheep folds and were the protectors of the sheep. The image of the gate is not as well known as that of the shepherd and is more difficult to enter into, but if we make the effort it can be very touching. Leaders who are like a gate are the opposite of possessive; they are content to be the humble instruments through which others can "go freely in and out", making their own way to "life to the full". A wonderful picture indeed of great parents, teachers, community leaders and friends.

But are we opening the closed the gates our hearts to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, to be willing to trust in the way that he is leading us.

Other reflections available from Word on Fire, Deacon Greg, Msgr Charles Pope, English Dominicans

Saints of the Week

May 16th - St Brendan the Navigator (Patron of the diocese of Kerry and Clonfert) and St Simon Stock (Carmelite)
May 17th - St Paschal Baylon
May 18th - Pope St John I (Martyr)
May 19th - St Peter Celestine (first and only Pope to resign)
May 20th - St Bernadine of Siena
May 21st - St Christopher Magallanes and Companions (Martyrs)

RCIA - The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults

We have an interview with John Casey, RCIA Catechist from Enfield parish in Westminister Diocese in the UK who tells us about the RCIA programme and how it is conducted from September through to Pentecost and then John does some interviews with candidates who completed the RCIA at Easter.

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is a formal program of catechetical instruction, ascetically practice (prayer and spirituality), and liturgies whereby adults — called catechumens — are formally admitted into the Church and receive the Sacraments of Initiation — Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. During the course of the RCIA program, the individual follows a spiritual journey of "steps' accomplished through defined periods punctuated with formal rites. The first period is the Precatechumenate, when candidates inquire about the faith and receive evangelization. Hopefully, the person comes to that initial conversion and step of faith, aided by the grace of God. This period ends with the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens when the candidates publicly declare their intention to enter the Church.

This Rite of Acceptance then begins the Period of the Catechumenate, during which the catechumens receive catechetical, ascetical and liturgical training. catechetical instruction is of the utmost importance; "This catechesis leads the catechumens not only to an appropriate acquaintance with dogmas and precepts but also to a profound sense of the mystery of salvation in which they desire to participate" (RCIA, No. 75). During this time, the catechumens should undergo a conversion of mind and action, becoming acquainted with the teachings of the faith and acquiring a spirit of charity. The sponsors and parish community assist the catechumens by their example and support. At Sunday Mass, the catechumens receive special exorcisms, blessings and anointings following the homily; however, after the Liturgy of the Word, they leave the Church. The Catechumenate may extend over a prolonged period of time, even years if necessary.

The Rite of Election closes the Period of the Catechumenate. This rite normally coincides with the first Sunday of Lent. At this rite, upon the testimony of sponsors and catechists and the catechumens' affirmation of their intention to join the Church, the Church makes its "election" of these catechumens to receive the Sacraments of Initiation. In the presence of the bishop (or his delegate), they inscribe their names in the Book of the Elect at the cathedral as a pledge of fidelity. Now the catechumens are called "the elect' or "the illuminandi" ("those who will be enlightened"). They now begin a Period of Purification and Enlightenment — the final, intense preparation for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. On the next five Sundays of Lent, three scrutinies (rites for self-searching and repentance) and the presentations of the Creed and Lord's Prayer take place. This period concludes with the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.

After the Easter Vigil, the newly baptized and confirmed members of the Church (technically called neophytes) enter the Period of Postbaptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy. The neophytes grow in their understanding of the mysteries of the faith and strengthen their bonding with the rest of the faithful. They should enter more fully into the life and unity of the Church. This period normally ends around Pentecost.
The special characteristic of good shepherds is brought out in the passage in the relationship of trust between them and the sheep. They are trusting and in turn they inspire trust in those whom they lead. This wonderful quality - so rare in our experience - is expressed in a series of images, each of which can touch us deeply. The shepherds "enter the sheepfold through the gate", they are not devious; they "call the sheep by name" - no haranguing; they "go ahead of the sheep" - no looking back to see if they are being followed. The sheep "know the voice" of the shepherd; their relationship is almost instinctive, of the heart.

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