Anointing with the oil of cathecumens

By Agnes Chai

Aug 12 2020

KARAMUNSING – Ten catechumens from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) English program made the final step before their baptism at Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) Aug 11 during the Rites of Final Preparation.

The lockdown imposed by COVID-19 has delayed newbie Catholics from being initiated into the Catholic Church. Up and until the relaxed RMCO which allows for gradual reopening of churches and parish activities, the SHC parish has put on hold church baptisms.

On Jul 25, Archbishop John Wong sent out pastoral instructions for parishes to resume pastoral activities, which includes the Reception of the Sacraments of Initiation, after receiving the relevant permission from the authorities.

Traditions would have it that a time is set aside for the final spiritual preparation of the Elect (catechumens) before the receiving the Sacraments of Initiation on Easter Vigil, which normally takes place on Holy Saturday.

With the new norm, the parish took a different approach and conducted the preparatory rites, which include the “Ephphatha” Rite, pre-baptismal anointing and the reciting of the Creed, in a safer time well after Easter.

“Ephphatha” means “be opened”, this being a symbol of opening the senses. During the Ephphatha, the ears and mouths of the Elect are blessed so they may hear the Word of God and profess it. 

Pre-baptismal anointing involves the exorcism and anointing of the Elect with the Oil of the Catechumens, symbolizing their need for God’s help and strength so that, undeterred by the bonds of the past and overcoming the opposition of the devil, they will forthrightly take the step of professing their faith and will hold fast to it unfalteringly throughout their lives.

The Elect ‘recited back’ the Creed which they received from the community of the faithful earlier, professing their faith publicly before the community. The rite also instructs them in their duty to proclaim the message of the Gospel.

The candidates and the parish RCIA Team, as well as parish priest Fr Paul Lo, observed fully the protocol required by SOP restrictions during the ritual.