In the Rite of Acceptance, one of the first things that happens is the “Candidates’ First Acceptance of the Gospel” (see paragraph 50 and following in the RCIA). When they accept the gospel, they are not accepting a book. They are accepting a way of life. If you have adapted the dialogue questions to fit the real lives and real needs of the candidates, that will be clear in the ritual. Whatever the candidate asks of God and the church, Jesus Christ is the answer to their deepest desire.
Here is an effective way to symbolize that gospel truth.
- As the assembly goes to gather with the candidates, lead them with the cross.
- As the presider dialogues with each candidate, he should stand in front of each candidate.
- The cross bearer would stand right next to him.
- For the final part of the dialogue, (e.g. “John, this is peace and happiness: to know the one true God and Jesus Christ “) the presider takes the cross from the cross bearer.
- He plants it directly in front of the candidate.
- With the sponsor’s help, he takes the candidates hands and wraps them around the cross.
- He encloses the candidate’s hands in his own.
- Then he continues, “John, this is peace and happiness: to know the one true God and Jesus Christ.”
- He then returns the cross to the cross bearer and completes the dialogue with each of the other candidates.
For a moment of this magnitude, you are going to want a big cross—even a massive cross. It is a massive commitment that the candidates make. It is good if the cross bearer has to struggle a bit to carry it. It is good if it is difficult for the candidates to get there hands wrapped around it. It is all symbolic of how large and how difficult their commitment will be. And it will be evident they cannot make the commitment alone. They will need the whole community to help them bear the weight.
See also these related articles: