This year our parish is offering a new approach to the Scrutinies. Being a cluster with  7 church locations the decision was made to celebrate the Scrutinies in a different church each week.

From the response this Sunday, this has a lot to recommend It, ensuring that the RCIA process is more widely known than when celebrated at a ‘quiet’ midweek mass or at one specific mass. Using different locations works well for a cluster, but equally having the Scrutinies at different masses or changing the mass times over the next 3 Sundays can work well. It offers a way for the majority of the local church community to experience this part of the initiation process. It also avoids a specific mass always being the one to have the Year A readings [RCIA 137].

There is a choice of exorcisms A or  B [ RCIA 141]either of  which offers catechesis on the Gospel of the woman of Samaria. Certainly in our small church there was a lot of interest on the people sitting in the front row on seats usually inhabited by our first holy communion children. Many people commented on how privileged and special it felt to be present at this mass and to witness the rite.


I believe the candidates and elect also felt special and enjoyed seeing the other people in the church community. Three weeks ago they experienced being part of the diocesan wide church, and today they got a glimpse of their own wider church community at worship.


The first scrutiny still offers the opportunity for the team to evaluate before moving on to the second and third scrutiny.

What works well with one particular assembly may still need to be tweaked a little for a different congregation. This may depend on how well briefed those involved in the liturgy have been. It is always helpful to include in the liturgy meeting for Lent and the Easter Vigil, all the ministries so they are aware of the main changes to the service when celebrating any of the rites of RCIA. Decisions can then be made about the level of catechesis to be offered to a particular assembly in advance, or on the day. This is always easier if yours is an RCIA parish where RCIA is well publicised with the whole community walking the journey and praying for those seeking baptism or Full reception into the communion of the catholic church..

5 tips for the Scrutinies

1. The Communal Aspect

  • Keep the RCIA process very public throughout Lent, so the whole parish is there to support the elect and candidates in prayer and by their presence [RCIA 4, 8].
  • Enhance the communal aspect by celebrating the scrutinies at different churches if you have a cluster parish, or at different mass times if you have more than one mass.
  • Include the names of the elect in the Intercessions: they were after all called at the Rite of Election.


2. Dismissal

  • Consider the Rite of Dismissal in RCIA 142 but see also RCIA 83.2.
  • If you don’t usually exercise the rite of Dismissal, why not introduce it during the Scrutinies or perhaps try it for the Third Scrutiny. It could offer a powerful message not only to the elect but to the whole assembly.

3. Catechesis

  • If you have Elect (those to be baptised) and candidates (for reception into the full communion with the catholic church) sharing the catechetical sessions, do prepare them well, so each understands why the Scrutinies are for the elect only [RCIA 128-131].
  • If you are going to dismiss the elect, it isn’t only the elect who need catechesis about the reasons, but also the assembly who otherwise may think it strange that these people are leaving the service before the eucharist is celebrated [RCIA 142] but also see [RCIA 83.2].


4. Preparation

  • Although the team will have been preparing for some months, re-read the rites.
  • It is helpful to liaise with clergy and  other ministries who may not be familiar with the addition of this rite in their Sunday mass.


5. Evaluate

  •  Delegate at least one of the catechists to keep a written record of the rite, and discuss in the team what worked well and what may be done differently in the future. Do liaise with both the elect and their godparents.
  • The elect also need their time to reflect and discuss what they have experienced and how they have scrutinised the evils and wrongdoing of our secular world in this Period of purification and enlightenment [RCIA125-6]

[RCIA] Rite of Christian Initiation Of Adults approved for use for dioceses in  England and wales,, Ireland and Sxcotland (Burns & Oates)