When the community observes signs that the candidates have adopted a new way of life, they are ready for the rite of election that will make them candidates for baptism. They then enter upon a forty-day Lenten discipline of intense self-examination, fasting, and prayer to prepare themselves spiritually and emotionally for baptism. This is a period of purification and enlightenment, not study. Its aim is to lead the converts to a renunciation of the power of evil and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior. It bids converts to receive the tradition of the faith and commit themselves more fully to the life of faith. It is a time for recollection and readiness. This recollection rehearses their catechumenal experience and reflects upon it so that the catechumens might begin to understand the life of faith and its requirements. This period of election culminates in the rite of initiation, or baptism, symbolizing forgiveness of sins and a new life of grace; chrismation, symbolizing being marked as Christ’s own that we might share in his royal priesthood, as well as admission into the community’s life in the Holy Spirit; and reception of Eucharistic bread and wine, symbolizing life in God’s reign of justice and peace.
Following baptism, the newly baptized enter a final period known as the mystagogia, the great fifty days from Easter to Pentecost. The newly baptized, having experienced the great mysteries of the sacraments, gain a deeper understanding of their meaning. Further, through a series of formal and informal activities, they experience the fullness of corporate life in the church as well as a deeper understanding of daily life and work as their ministry.
Now that the newly baptized have accepted their place in the life of the Christian community of faith they begin the lifelong process of living into their baptism. Once they have came to know who and whose they are and how they are called to live through continuing participation in the life of the church and the practice of the Christian way of life, they become who they already are, namely, persons who have been incorporated into the body of Christ, infused with Christ’s character, and empowered to be Christ’s presence in the world.
Certain assumptions are foundational to evangelization. For one thing, evangelization is understood as a personal journey that calls for creativity, flexibility, and adaptability. It is not an institutional program that is identical for everyone. It is a person, with a personal story and life history, who is being evangelized. Evangelization, therefore, is a process that needs to be made relevant to each person. For another thing, evangelization is a process that takes place in a community of faith, a community that is continually being renewed and reformed. A community of faith orders and organizes its life around a common story and ritual. It has a common understanding of authority that informs its life of faith. It has a common purpose beyond its own life and survival. And it has a common life that is more like a covenanted family than a contractual institution. Further, evangelization assumes that its primary concerns are faith understood as perception, character understood as identity and behavioral disposition, and consciousness understood as subjective awareness. Last, evangelization assumes that conversion is a process and not an event, which involves, over a period of time, transformations in a person’s faith, character, and consciousness, in a person’s loyalties, convictions, and commitments. Evangelization intends to aid persons to repent, that is, to
Chilcote, P. W., & Warner, L. C. (Eds.). (2008). The study of evangelism : Exploring a missional practice of the church. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Created from amridge on 2022-10-21 03:59:40.
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change the way they see things and therefore change the direction of their lives.
The third-century theologian Tertullian wrote, “Christians are made, not born” (Apol. xviii). Christian initiation is a process through which one goes while being transformed into a new creation and fashioned into the likeness of Christ. Christian initiation is only the beginning; it launches one on a lifelong journey of becoming the being one is made by baptism.
This process of fashioning was originally called catechesis, which means literally “to echo.” When used by the early church, it implied echoing the Word, and the Word was a person, Jesus. Catechesis was the process directed at the formation of Christlike people: In English, it was called christening. Regretfully, over time, christening became associated solely with the ritual of baptism and catechesis with the memorization and repetition of words.
It has become clear in our day, however, that the making of Christlike persons is a lifelong process. In the case of adult converts, an intense process is also needed to prepare them for Christian initiation. I have called this process evangelization. As a process, it is similar to catechesis.
Catechesis comprises three deliberate (intentional), systemic (interrelated), and sustained (lifelong) processes, which I have named formation, education, and instruction. Formation is participation in and the practice of the Christian life of faith. It is both a transforming, or converting, and a conforming, or nurturing, process aimed at fashioning the faith, character, and consciousness of persons and communities.