The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What are they doing up there?

When I tell someone that I attend Church on Saturday evenings the first thing they ask me is if I am a Seventh Day Adventist. The Catholic Church liturgy begins on Saturday evening at sunset and is the same Mass that is celebrated on Sunday mornings. For the last seventeen years of marriage my family and I have attended Church on Saturday evenings. There can be many reasons why one would prefer to attend Church on Saturday as oppose to Sunday, for me it's due most in part to my job. If I am unable to make in on Saturday for any reason then I attend the Sunday worship service.

This past weekend, November 12, 2011 was a bit unusual and foreign for many of the 6:30pm members who hardly, if ever, attend Sunday morning service.  It's unfortunate that what goes on during Sunday service does not normally take place at Saturday evening service, thereby raising many questions as to what was taking place on this particular Saturday.

In preparation for acceptance fully into the Catholic Church, three persons have been undergoing instruction classes in the "Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)" program for the past several months. Two of the individuals have already received the Sacrament of Baptism therefore they will be receiving the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion during Easter of 2012, while the third person will be receiving full initiation into the Catholic Church; Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion. 

Those individuals who were baptized through another Church come into this journey of faith as "candidates" while those who were never baptized are referred to as "catechumens." Just as the two disciples who journeyed on the road to Emmaus, the candidates and catechumens journey in faith and ministry of the Catholic Church. As the disciples walked along the road Jesus walked alongside them and allowed them to express their feelings about Him. Jesus then explained the scriptures to them, and was invited to stay with them. After giving the blessings and breaking the bread they then recognized Jesus. Our candidates and catechumens are also journeying with Jesus as they ask their questions and come to truly know Him. Sharing in the body and blood of Christ becomes the pinnacle of the end of their journey.

My wife is one of the two who will be receiving Confirmation and First Holy Communion during Easter of 2012. Yeah I know your thinking "no way", why did she wait so long. The Church never forces anyone to join the Church. It must come from within and the desire can only come from the Holy Spirit moving in their lives. My wife through education of our children probably knows more about the Catholic Church than myself. Easter will be a joyful time for my family when we witness and welcome our mother and wife in full communion with the Church.

As she stood at the front of the Church with the others, I stood on the altar and could sense the tears building up inside of her for what was taking place (this I confirmed with her after Church). Our new Priest, Fr. Anselm Russell welcomed the catechumen and candidates in a  combined rite of welcoming service at the 6:30pm service. They were invited up to the front of the Church while they declared their intent to the community of believers to be received into the Church.

Having spent the last seventeen years as a family at my Parish, many of the members who see us week to week at Church assumed that my wife was a Catholic. She conducted herself as a Catholic through praise and worship by participating in the prayers and procedures of the Mass. As I indicated before, she probably is more Catholic than myself. She will eventually join each of us at the table of the altar to share in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When Mass was concluded a few members came up to my wife and asked what was taking place at the front of the Church. Maybe it wasn't clearly explained or they could not hear, but it shows the importance of exposing every service to particular events that take place in our Churches. After Church the catechumen and candidates were greeted by the members and welcomed into the community. Several members approached my wife and asked her what they were doing at the front of the Church. 

It is important that each and everyone member of the Church is briefed on why we do what we do, so we can feel comfortable and proud to defend our faith and belief against our Protestant brothers and sisters.

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