Okay, that’s a little strong. But if your lenten catechesis for the elect looks a lot like the catechesis that was going on during the period of the catechumenate, something is amiss.
What the RCIA says about lenten formation
The rite is pretty clear. If you have your RCIA handy (or maybe even if you don’t; go get it) open to paragraph 139:
[Lent] is a period of more intense spiritual preparation, consisting more in interior reflection than in catechetical instruction.
If, in Lent, you have both elect (who will be baptized this Easter) and catechumens (who won’t), you’ll have to do a little bi-locating. The catechumens will need to continue their grounding in and exploration of the content outlined in paragraph 75 of the RCIA. So during this time, you might need two catechists—one to be with the elect and one to be with the catechumens. If you don’t have the person power for that, remember that Lent is primarily a time to focus on the spiritual preparation of the elect.
While our ministry to the catechumens remains crucial during the lenten season, our concern for the elect is paramount. Check out paragraph 121:
The election, marked with a rite of such solemnity, is the focal point of the Church’s concern for the catechumens.
Not the time for RCIA catch up
All that we have been doing with the catechumens is to get them to this point—the point at which the bishop declares them to be candidates for baptism. At that moment, it is pretty much a done deal. It’s like getting engaged—so engaged that you’ve sent out the invitations, rented the hall, and booked the flight for the honeymoon. There really is no turning back now unless something really drastic and unforeseeable happens.
So lenten catechesis is not about “catching up” on stuff that got missed in the catechumenate. It is about preparing in a soul-filled, prayerful way for a life of joy—and a life of sacrifice.
What should RCIA catechesis of the elect look like?
Well, then, what does the actual lenten catechesis look like? It looks like what is happening in their lives. The major events for the elect over the 40 days of Lent are going to be the three scrutinies on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent. Lenten catechesis for the elect will ask three questions, each with a strength and weakness side to it:
- What have you most drunk in of Christ? What do you continue to thirst for?
- What have you seen that you never saw before? What do you remain blind to?
- What is most life-giving in your new intimacy with Christ? What is still dead that needs resurrection?
Structure the 40 days as a retreat for the elect centered on these questions and you will have answered the challenge of the rite “to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect” and “then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good” (141).
See also these related articles:
- Choreographing the Scrutinies
- Don’t catechize in Lent
- Reckless Love: A Scrutiny Homily
- 9 Ways to Treat the Elect Like Royalty
- Are your catechumens ready for the next stage?
- How to rehearse the rite of sending
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan | freedigitalphotos.net