How to rehearse the scrutinies

Rehearsal outline:


RCIA 150-156, 164-170, 171-177

6:30 Before everyone arrives

  • Turn on lights and put out microphones.
  • Put the lectionary on the ambo.
  • Put the presider’s script or ritual book on his chair.
  • Put the catechumenate director’s script on her chair or pew.
  • Place name tags in the pews where you want the elect and their godparents to sit.
  • If necessary, mark the spots where the elect will stand with a piece of masking tape.

7:00 Welcome the participants: the presider, the director of the catechumenate, the godparents, and perhaps the musician. (The elect are not present.) Ask the presider, godparents, and catechumenate director to sit in their places. Lead a brief prayer.

7:10 Remind the godparents of these essential points; be lighthearted, but still convey the importance of the information:

  • Point out to the godparents that the scrutinies have two goals
    • Uncover and heal all weakness in the elect
    • Strengthen all that is strong and good in the elect (see RCIA 141)
  • There are three scrutinies, and all three are required, because one builds upon the next.
  • Godparents need to pick up the elect from home or meet them in front of the church before Mass.
  • Everyone needs to be in their seats 15 minutes before Mass starts.
  • From the minute they walk into the church, until the minute the elect are dismissed, the godparents need to be in physical contact with the elect. A hand on an arm or shoulder at all times.
  • It is the godparents’ responsibility to know the details of the rite. They need to project an air of confidence and always reassure the elect that things are under control.
  • Point out to them that Mass will begin as usual and will be “normal” up through the homily. After the homily ends, they need to be ready.

7:20 Invitation to silent prayer

After the homily, the godparents move the elect into place. There is no cue for them in the ritual text. You can write one for the presider to say, but do that before rehearsal. Have them mime bringing the elect to their spots.

The presider first invites the assembly to pray. No text is given. The presider can improvise or you can prepare a script ahead of time. In either case, have him say his lines now.

The presider then invites the elect to pray. Decide ahead of time if the elect are going to bow their heads or kneel. Have the presider read the line in the ritual text.

7:30 Intercessions for the elect

Note that the intercessions for the elect will be prayed at this point. (There is no need to actually read through them.)

Point out to the godparents that these are intercessions for the elect and not the prayer of the faithful that we usually do at Mass.

(Remind them to keep a hand on the elect.)

MUSIC NOTE: The intercessions could be chanted.

7:35 Exorcism

Point out to the godparents that the exorcism will follow. Explain to them this isn’t the kind of exorcism they may have seen in movies. It is a simple but profound prayer that the elect will be free of sin and temptation.

Have the presider go to each place where the elect will be and mime laying hands on their heads. The director of the catechumenate follows and likewise mimes the laying on of hands.

After the director has moved to the next place, the godparent steps in front of his or her elect and lays hands on the head of the elect. Walk through the entire laying on of hands.

The presider and the director return to their places, and the godparents return to standing next to the elect, hands on shoulders.

In the liturgy, the presider prays the conclusion of the exorcism with his arms outstretched. Have him practice now.

If the elect are kneeling, they would stand after the “Amen.” Tell the godparents they will need to remember that and help the elect to their feet.

7:45 Dismissal

The presider reads the dismissal line. (Write one or choose one of the options in the ritual text before rehearsal.)

The director of the catechumenate exits down the center aisle, carrying the lectionary.

Tell the godparents to tell the elect to follow the book. Remind them that even though the elect will be used to a dismissal, the flow of the liturgy will be new to them and they might be momentarily confused. The godparents should make sure the elect know what to do.

After the elect have left, the godparents will return to their seats in the assembly.

MUSIC NOTE: There would ordinarily be an acclamation as the catechumens leave.

7:50 End

Thank the godparents for their time and their commitment. Remind them to be in their seats 15 minutes early. Make sure they have your e-mail address and cell phone number in case they have any questions.

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