What does the Introduction tell us about R.C.I.A.?
This is a brief guide to what the Introductory paragraphs in the Ritual tell us about the nature of the spiritual journey that is the Rite of Christian Initiastion of Adults. Open your Ritual book on page 3 and you will find paragraphs as numbered below that tell us:
Paragraph #1. It is designed for adults. The mystery of Christ is proclaimed. The candidate “consciously and freely” seeks God – and so the process totally respects their dignity and freedom. It’s about entering the way of faith and conversion. The work is done by the Holy Spirit. God’s help opens hearts. “At the proper time” the sacraments are received. Therefore we cannot ‘programme’ God’s work!
#2. It is not just about getting the sacraments. It’s about the entire process and spiritual journey, “endorsed by the ancient practice of the Church”.
#3. There are different types of initiation envisaged depending on whether the person presenting is unbaptised, a child or previously baptised. But Section I (i.e. pages 14-148 of the book) is the usual format.
#4. It’s a gradual process (remember the Parable of the Sower) that takes place within the community of the faithful who provide an example.
#5. It’s a spiritual journey, adult focused and adaptable. Not a ‘programme’.
#6. A journey with periods of time and steps marking the catechumens’ progress. The 3 steps are thresholds, “the major, more intense periods of initiation”, and thereby should be celebrating something real.
#7. The catechumenate may last for several years. The third period (normally Lent) is “much shorter” than the others.
#8. It has “a markedly Paschal character”. It is marked by the pattern of “Christ’s dying and rising”. Hence it is most fitting that the sacraments of initiation are celebrated as one at the Easter Vigil.
#9. RCIA “is the responsibility of all the baptised”. [This is a vision of what a parish can be: a community that initiates, ready to share their faith, welcoming catechumens into their homes and to community gatherings.] Full, conscious, active participation of the community is desired across the whole spiritual journey, present at the celebrations, giving honest witness and testimony and being renewed themselves.
#10. Tells us about Sponsors – chosen by the parish to accompany inquirers.
#11. Tells us about Godparents – chosen by the candidate with the help of the parish.
#18. The Rite of Acceptance should not be celebrated too early.
#19. The Rite of Election – takes place in the Cathedral on the 1st Sunday of Lent.
#20. The Scrutinies take place on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent.
#21. Presentations of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer from ancient usage.
#22. On Holy Saturday, The Ritual of the return of the Creed. The Elect refrain from work. The Ephphetha Rite, choosing of a Christian name, anointing with the Oil of Catechumens.