The Catholic Community  of St. John Neumann
A Christian Church of the Catholic Tradition
Califon, NJ

Pastor's weekly Writing


Dear Friends,

       This week during the 5;30pm Mass and the 10:30am Mass we have a Rite called ‘Scrutiny’ for the ‘Catechumen’ who are in the RCIA process in our parish. Are all these strange terms for us? I think we will all remember that RCIA stands for the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.” This year we are privileged to have our parishioners Chris, Shannon, Jennifer, Michelle, Tanya and Michelle in the RCIA session that meets weekly to prepare themselves to receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation) at the Easter Vigil this year. ‘Catechumen’ is the term used for an unbaptized person who is attending this preparation in RCIA, and ‘Candidate’ is the term used for a baptized person who did not receive Eucharist or Confirmation.
      Today we have the rite called ‘scrutiny’ which, as the  official Book of Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, explains, is “ meant to uncover, and then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good.  For the scrutinies are celebrated in order to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life.” (no.141) Essentially, it is composed of prayers of intercession and the laying on of hands so that the Holy Spirit may be invoked that they are freed from the spirit of evil. This rite is celebrated purposefully at Mass, so that the whole congregation is given the opportunity to pray for and support those preparing for the Easter sacraments and to make the point that conversion is not only a personal matter but a communal commitment. 
      As I invite you to pray for our Catechumens and Candidates, let me remind all of us that this Rite of Scrutiny is also an opportunity for the rest of us, to self-examine and see the need for healing in our weakness, detect the sinful habits in our lives and to nourish the good within us so that we can bear good fruits for Christ. Lent is the time to learn from our mistakes of over-indulgence in food, drink, drugs, gambling, promiscuity, anger, revenge, gossip, slander, criticism or any other addictive habit that may keep us from coming to the living waters of a right relationship with God.  We all have our short list, don't we?  And we all know, honest to God, what it is we need to leave behind before we come to the Living Water and the Bread of Heaven – as the Samaritan woman of today’s gospel shows us.  May this be a time for reinforcing our decision to live the Lenten discipline we chose – always trusting in Jesus who is our best friend (John 15:15).
          Let’s continue to live a happy and holy Lent!
          Your brother in Christ,

                                                                                      Fr. Abraham Orapankal