In her blog ( 5 September 2011 A Parish begins the RCIA process) Caroline writes of the enthusiasts who are forming a parish RCIA team and the formation session offered to the team.
Resources are essential to anyone involved in RCIA, and although it may seem a bit daunting, the Rite itself is a resource that needs to be looked at time and time again. I suggest one way.
- Get a photocopy of the Introduction and have a reading group over coffee and cakes [cakes essential!].
- Have coloured marker pens, and colour code the different periods; the different roles: the community, the catechumen; the mention of liturgical actions, and the mention of catechesis.
- Look ahead to the first rite. Make a bullet point list of what has to be affirmed at that rite, for that is the way your path is directed.
- Be flexible, be imaginative.
Journals provide another valuable resource, with contributors often concentrating on a specific period or role in the RCIA
An article in the latest edition of Catechumenate* by Christine Mader offers an interesting approach to the Rite of Reception of Baptised Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church.
The author writes of how baptised Christians are included in the RCIA process alongside those unbaptised people seeking the full sacraments of initiation. This may mean a year long process that takes no account of the circumstances of the individual. So, fine, if the person is uncatechised, but what of the person who has been attending mass each Sunday with their spouse; who has fully involved themselves in parish life, praying with the community, sharing tasks of charity. Or what of the Christian who was active in their own denomination, perhaps practising a ministry.
Christine Mader considers the matter by asking 3 questions. I pick out just a few points
1. ‘Whom should we see?’
- We should see that the baptised is Christian, and so has already achieved the purpose that the RCIA process intends.
- That the baptised Christian is already in communion with the Catholic Church, although as of yet an imperfect communion.
- They may already have been fully initiated in their own church, and regularly receiving Holy Communion.
2. Why should we act?
- The author considers ‘Our experience teaches us that the status quo is inadequate’
- That both, those being received into the Catholic Church, and RCIA teams, acknowledge unease when ‘practising Christians are forced to go through a full RCIA process’ when their Christian experience doesn’t require it.
In answering the first 2 questions the author moves to 3. Who should we be? That there are new informed ways of being.
- Understand the rites. The Rite of Reception is separate from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is in Part 2, 5. Rites for Particular Circumstances.
- ‘Be ecumenically informed and sensitive’. Consider what is the validity of their own sacramental journey. Help them to discern why they feel drawn to the Catholic Church.
- Don’t plan to provide them with them more doctrinal or spiritual preparation than the average Catholic in the community already has. They shouldn’t be subjected to a heavier burden because they have made a choice to become Catholic.
- Be prepared to complete the process in less time than that of catechumens.
- ‘Be communal.’ By using what is already happening in your parish community, a varied catechesis can be given which utilises existing resources: giving a mix of groups, talks, involvement in parish activities as well as individual meetings
The author also suggests the team have a session reading the rite, exploring what it means and what is required.
- Don’t forget to look out the Resources page on this website.
- If you come across an interesting resource, do please share it via the blog.
*Mader Christine, ‘Separating the Rite of Reception from RCIA’, Catechumenate, vol 33 no 5.(2011) 20-30. Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago.