We have a catechumen who would have been initiated at the Easter Vigil last month, except her husband’s annulment had not come through in time. Now it has come through. She has been in the catechumenate for almost two years now. Can we celebrate initiation outside of the Easter Vigil? What about the Rite of Sending and the Rite of Election? Would we do the Scrutinies within class? Is there a format to follow?
Your catechumen’s case falls under “unusual circumstances,” which are described in paragraphs 26-30 in the RCIA. See especially paragraph 29, which says Election is to be celebrated six weeks before baptism, and there should be sufficient time for the Scrutinies and Presentations.
If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to celebrate all the rites to the greatest extent possible, knowing some compromises will have to be made.
- Celebrate the Rite of Election at a Sunday Mass six weeks before you plan to celebrate the Initiation sacraments. You need to get the bishop to delegate authority to the pastor to do this. (Or maybe the bishop would come to the parish to preside himself! See paragraph 29.)
- You would not do a Rite of Sending because you aren’t sending your catechumen anywhere. However, you can adapt this rehearsal outline for the Rite of Sending for the celebration of the Rite of Election in your parish.
- Click here for a handout here on the Rite of Election that you might want to adapt to give out to your parish assembly.
- It might be pastorally best for your Sunday assembly if you move the Scrutinies and Presentations to “convenient weekdays” (see paragraph 20), with as many people from the parish as care to come, and this may include the team and the other participants in the process. Click here for a rehearsal outline for the scrutinies.
- You would then want to celebrate the Initiation sacraments on a Sunday (see paragraph 27).
It is important to strive to give your catechumen the fullest experience of the rites possible. These rites have value even if they are done on a modest scale, with a small assembly. She will only be baptized once in her life (we hope!). She deserves to experience everything the rites have to offer.
Has anyone else had experience with celebrating the Initiation Rites outside of the Easter Vigil? Click on the comments button below and tell us about it.