This is an extract from a series of resources on Liturgy and RCIA which are in preparation
Preparing the Team
- There are 2 significant moments of discernment in the Rite.
- The first is in preparation for the Rite of Admission to the Catechumenate and is the discernment of individual whether they wish to articulate what they are seeking and are ready to enter the catechumenate.
- The second, prior to the Rite of Election, is made by the team, those involved in the formation of catechumens, and it is about the readiness of the catechumens to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. (109)
- The questions asked the godparents provide a summary of the period of the Catechumenate and could be used the basis of a process of discernment.
Have they listened faithfully to God’s word proclaimed by the Church?
Have they responded to that word and begun to walk in God’s presence?
Have they shared the company of their Christian brothers and sisters and joined them in prayer?
- The Catechumens may also take part in the discernment. (109) Indeed they may well be aware of their own readiness.
- The Rite is clear that the period of the Catechumenate can take a number of years (cf. 76) and the team must be prepared to wait with a Catechumen until he/she is ready. The timetable of Initiation is God’s to which we respond and support.
- Where there are Candidates for Reception there may be a similar process of discernment however noting as stated above that there Reception is not dependent on Easter and may be celebrated at any time of the year.
- Many dioceses now run preparation evenings for teams leading up to the Rite of Election. This can be an opportunity to learn about the practicalities of the day and also aspects of the liturgical celebration such as the readings and the music.
Preparing Catechumens (& Candidates)
- Given the distinction the distinction that the diocesan celebration makes between Catechumens and Candidates it is important that those taking part know and understand the differences between the two — and therefore which they are.
- Best practice would suggest that such distinctions should be clear from an early stage in the group rather than just before the Rite of Election.
- The distinction is a reminder of the importance we place on baptism which is at the heart of the whole process.
- When introducing the Rite of Election to the group you may wish to share pictures of the Cathedral and the bishop
- Try to remember for year to year what are the questions the group ask. This may include questions of what to wear or what facilities are available.
- As a rule when preparing groups for participation in a liturgical celebration try to give them enough information so that they can participate but not so much that they worry about ‘what’s coming next?’.
- Also try to avoid telling people how they will feel.
- Consider three aspects of the celebration
- The readings – take the opportunity to reflect on the readings that will be used at the rite. How do they speak them as individuals and also their hopes for Easter. A sign of a fruitful Catechumenate will be the groups willingness and ability to engage with scripture heard in the liturgy. [Readings Lent 1B (pdf)]
- The music – invite one of the parish musicians to go through some of the music or see if it could be incorporated at Mass in some of the preceding Sundays.
- The Rite – given them an idea of the main elements of the Presentation, Affirmation etc. Include any movement and what the purpose of each part is and how it leads on to the next.
- Encourage both to engage prayerfully and also it the enjoy the celebration.
Preparing the Parish
- The Catechumens (and Candidates) should be a regular focus of the Community’s prayer.
- In the week’s preceding the Rite of Election as discernment is taking place these prayers will be important.
- Make sure the parish is aware of significant stages in the Rite — and know the group by sight and by name.
- As suggested above music from the Rite of Election might be used in the parish.
- Some parishes may have a ‘Sending’ to mark the Catechumens departure for the Rite of Election
And afterwards: Mystagogy
- Mystagogy – the reflection on liturgical celebration and life through the eyes of faith – is a not just a period but a skill that is developed throughout the Rite.
- Therefore, when the Catechumens (and Candidates) return from the Rite of Election there should an opportunity to reflect on the experience.
- This may begin with the sharing of memories of all aspects of the day.
- But it should move on to deeper questions, starting with ‘What was your highlight?’ or ‘What stands out from the liturgy?’
- This can develop into a prayerful remembering of the liturgy, possibly singing some of the music again and hearing some of the texts.
- What struck you when you heard the readings proclaimed?’
- When you signed your name how did that feel? etc.