I often help lead the Concerning the Baptized institute. The institute, which is sponsored by the diocese and the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, is all about how to catechize and ritually receive baptized candidates into full communion.
Well, not just that. It’s also about how to help baptized candidates complete their initiation. Those are two different theologies and perhaps two different catechetical experiences. These are some of the folks we’re talking about:
- Catholics who were baptized as infants, but never raised in the faith. They are clearly completing their initiation.
- Catholics who were baptized and celebrated first communion, but then stopped going to church. Because these folks have not celebrated confirmation, an initiation sacrament, we talk about them completing their initiation. But speaking of confirmation as an initiation sacrament gets confusing if it is celebrated after first communion. If Eucharist is the climax of the initiation process, how can confirmation complete initiation? Nevertheless, these folks are usually in need of an extensive catechetical process.
- Catholics who were baptized and celebrated first communion and have remained active in their faith. They’re going to church and participating in the parish. These folks do not belong in an RCIA process in any form. They are not completing their initiation; they’re catching up on their sacraments.
- Non-Catholics who were baptized as infants, raised in the Christian faith, and have been active in their tradition. These folks are not completing their initiation. They have been fully initiated, and their initiation is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. What they don’t yet have is full communion with us, and they are being received into that full communion.
- Non-Catholics who were baptized as infants and were never raised in the faith. This is the most difficult group to categorize. At least for me. Are they completing their initiation? In some non-Catholic traditions, water baptism is full initiation. But if they never lived out their faith, aren’t they in some sense still being initiated? On the other hand, initiation is initiation. Baptism is baptism. It’s God who acts, not us. So wouldn’t it be more appropriate to think of these folks being received into full communion?
Figuring out who’s who matters because knowing their status helps determine their ritual and catechetical path.
What kinds of folks do you wind up dealing with? What liturgies do you celebrate with them? Do they journey along side by side with the catechumens, or do you have separate processes? There is a short poll below, and you can also click the comments button to offer some thoughts.