RCIA A Balancing Exercise

balancing comes in all forms

In the 21st century we have to become very adept at balancing: juggling our home life with our work commitments, ensuring a good balance of ‘busyness’ and ‘me-time’.  It is the same with RCIA: using the resources at hand (and here it is helpful to keep reminding ourselves ‘that the initiation of adults is the responsibility of all the baptised’  RCIA 9),  as a variety of enquirers, catechumens and candidates have to be assisted and supported along their journey of faith.

Fortunately as well as human helpers we are blessed by our scriptural and liturgical resources. There is the ease and importance of using lectionary based catechesis. ‘Ease’ because it follows the liturgical year and the scripture text comes around every three years, so it is experienced by every one of the faithful; and ‘important’ because it is the Word of God on which we all feed for the truth of what it means to be a catholic christian.

On the 32nd Sunday in ordinary time as we near the end of this liturgical year it is easy to follow on from All Saints and All Souls and discuss the promise of resurrection in our sessions or meetings.  In balancing the needs of the unbaptised: whether initial enquirer or catechumen, and those perhaps of the already baptised: whether uncatechised catholic or those pursuing reception into full communion with the catholic church, the lectio divina process could be employed.

  • Depending on when they became involved in the RCIA process, enquirers* should be open to learning about this ancient form of prayer. I find that it helps the focus, to use the shortened version of this text (Luke 20:27, 34-38).
  • By explaining the whole exercise in advance, the enquirer knows how the time is going to be spent.
  • Before it is first proclaimed, ask them to listen to it and to see if a word, phrase or image strikes them. (I find it breaks concentration if you say this after it has been read)
  • If this is their first experience of lectio divina you may find it helpful to read it a second time before you invite them to share their phrase.
  • Invite them to listen to what strikes them when they hear it proclaimed again.
  • Then for the next reading invite them to listen to how the Word of God is meeting them at this stage of their life.
  • In the final proclamation ask them to dig deep into their heart and ask what God is calling them to do.
  • After each reading give at least a couple of minutes for reflection.
  • After sharing give further time for meditation on what has been said.

The challenge of this type of prayer is that you don’t always know where it is going to lead, but it can offer a real insight into where your enquirer or catechumen are in their journey.

* For those making initial enquiry I would use part of the gospel, read once and invite them  to spend a couple of minutes in quiet reflection on what it is saying to them,

You might also find it useful to look at the Rite of Acceptance with the enquirer. In the first acceptance of the gospel all the proposed addresses stress that faith leads to ‘eternal life’ #52.

What does eternal life mean to those approaching the catholic church? How does the promise of eternal life impinge on their present way of living? Does it involve change and if so what support will they need from the community?

This also offers consideration for the discernment process. The uncatechised baptised may benefit from celebrating a Rite of Welcome #381. This needs to be discerned.

Discernment is also needed when considering the committed non catholic churchgoer. Perhaps in their previous church they were involved in church ministries and so may need very little ‘doctrinal and spiritual preparation’ #391. Their individual journey will help channel their journey, having regard that the Rite of Reception ‘is so arranged that no greater burden than necessary is required…’#387.

Whatever the individual journey lectionary based catechesis is an essential tool.