For many in the parish, there can be that feeling that it is Lent again with decisions to be made: what to give up, what works of charity to do, what groups to go to, how to prepare for easter. But one group will be experiencing LENT as a whole new experience: those to be initiated through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist, and those to be received into full communion with the catholic church.
I would like to suggest that sharing this period of Purification and Enlightenment with the whole parish could be a spiritual experience that the whole community share. Of course this is not a new idea for :
In the liturgy and liturgical catechesis of Lent the reminder of baptism already received or the preparation for its reception, as well as the theme of repentance, renew the entire community along with those being prepared to celebrate the paschal mystery….. For both the elect and the local community, therefore the Lenten season is a time for spiritual recollection in preparation for the celebration of the paschal mystery. RCIA 125.
The period consists ‘ more in interior reflection than in catechetical instruction, and is intended to purify the minds and hearts of the elect as they search their own consciences and do penance’ RCIA 126
Perhaps some questions to ask include:
- Is the whole community aware of the names of the candidates, and are they supporting their journey?
- What opportunities are being offered to allow the elect to experience a deeper knowledge of Christ?
- Is this an opportunity for some catechesis of the parish about the RCIA process?
- Is this an evangelising opportunity for those who may be wavering on the threshold?
Prayer is a vital part of any spiritual preparation. There will be many forms of prayer: praying the rosary, the stations of the cross, reflecting in depth on the Opening Prayer. This could be a time to share the many different forms of prayer not only among the candidates, but throughout the community.
- TIP Invite people to bring a prayer that is special to them and pin them on a board at the back of the church or somewhere that is visible to the whole community. Watch it grow in size and variety.
A handy resource is Alison Berger’s A Prayerbook for Catechumens Twenty-third Publications