Why the RCIA is Dead Wrong about Celebrating Rites with Children [paragraphs 257, 260]

7 thoughts on “Why the RCIA is Dead Wrong about Celebrating Rites with Children [paragraphs 257, 260]”

  1. Generally speaking, I’d have to agree with you. There are instances, however, when a “special needs” child may not be comfortable, as the Rite states. I once had a twelve-year-old girl run to the bathroom to vomit every single time she went to stand in front of the assembly. She just couldn’t do it. Also, I’d be careful about the language I use in criticizing the official rites of the Church: “dead wrong” is strong language; “My experience has shown me differently” invites conversation and respects the authority under which the Rites were written.

  2. What about Adults who are very private people and have avoided joining the church because they are not comfortable in being limelight at the rites. Although the process is best as a public witness of faith – is it necessary to have the rites in front of the entire congregation?

    1. Rita Burns Senseman

      Robin and Ivana have both made very good points about that fact that some people, children and adults, are not comfortable being in front of a congregation for the celebration of the rites. I believe there are two important points to address regarding this issue. First, the communal dimension of the Church, our faith, and our liturgical tradition is constitutive to who we are as Catholics. The RCIA stresses the importance of the community’s role in the journey of faith (nos. 4, 9, 75.2, 75.3). Second, we must also use good pastoral judgment when determining what is best for an individual candidate. Of course, we would never “force” someone to do something that might cause trauma or distress. Ivana pointed out two good examples of when pastoral discretion is needed. That’s part of the beauty and wisdom of the Rite; it gives us guidelines and direction, but also tells us to adapt.

  3. After the Easter Vigil, as we celebrated joyfully with the family of our neophyte D, age 12, who had spent 3 years as a catechumen, her grandmother remarked that she was continually surprised at D’s openness during the rites and rituals and how eager D was to receive the blessing at the time of dismissal, since D had always been such a quiet and reticent child. D giggled as she gently and lovingly reproved her grandmother; “but I was never up there alone. Everyone was with me, and it was so awesome to hear everyone praying just for me.”

    I believe in trusting the process. When we stop injecting our own fears and bias, we allow others to be themselves. The warmth and acceptance of the community SPEAKS!
    I do agree that, for most, celebrating the rites with the community into which the child will be initiated, including peer and family support, has been the most meaningful for our youthful catechumens. The adult catechumens have benefited from the open and honest faith sharing of our younger members, especially during dismissal reflections.

  4. Good for you!!!!!! You are right on. We should give them the opportunity to experience the Rites to their fullest and that is the presence of the whole assembly. Yes I do agree that there are some special needs children that might not be comfortable, but I suspect it in a small minority. Go to the Special Olympics and watch the faces of these children.

  5. Rita Burns Senseman

    I love Theresa’s point about trusting the process. Amen!
    Amen to Tommie, too! We had the Indiana Special Olympics in my home town of Terre Haute this year.

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