Pray unto the Lord, ye catechumens…
The Prayer of the Catechumens is a special part of the Divine Liturgy. When I was a catechumen preparing to be received into the Orthodox Church, I felt a sense of purpose. At that moment the entire church was praying for me.
I didn’t realize at the time that this prayer never stops.
For a catechumen, the words of this portion of the Liturgy are a prayer for God’s guidance to those being brought into the True Faith.
O Lord, our God, Who dwellest on high and regardest the humble of heart; Who hast sent forth as the salvation of mankind Thine Only-begotten Son and God, our Lord Jesus Christ; look down upon Thy servants, the catechumens, who have bowed their heads before Thee; make them worthy in due season of the laver of regeneration. Unite them to thy Holy, Universal and Apostolic Church, and number them with Thy chosen flock.
After my reception into the Church, I felt a unity with all those around me. Soon after I realized that I no longer had to bow my head as a catechumen. I was Orthodox.
Recently we received another catechumen into the Church. During the next Liturgy, it occurred to me that there would be no one to pray for in the church during that part of the service. I waited for the priest to alter the words of the service to account for this, but the prayers remained unchanged.
The prayer is not simply for the catechumens in our church. It is for all catechumens, everywhere. Just as in our prayers for those in the armed forces, or those in persecuted churches across the world, we pray corporately for all of those preparing to be received into the Church.
I’m sure this is an obvious thing to most everyone. But for me it was another revelation of the beauty of the Church. At all times, someone is praying for me. I am joined with the Church throughout the world, and throughout history. That ‘great cloud of witnesses‘ is asking God’s mercy on me.
Lord have mercy on the catechumens everyone. Lord have mercy on me.