RCIA’s crucial three-step communication system

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2 thoughts on “RCIA’s crucial three-step communication system”

  1. Nick
    Modern cultures, particularly western culture doesn’t like silence. For example, think about the “noise” in our normal daily activities. With our fast life and work cycles, driven by media noise to keep us moving on to the next thing, we have conditioned ourselves to avoid silence. When was the last time you allowed a 30 second silent pause in conversation to absorb the ideas and concepts being discussed? (30 seconds will feel like an eternity – try it!)

    However in our own spiritual experiences, we know that it is often in the silence of our reflecting and discerning on something that we have heard or experienced about Jesus that the Spirit enlightens us to the next step/episode in the mystery of following Christ.

    So too will it be for our inquirers, catechumens and candidates. Whenever we communicate a message or enable an experience, then they will need time (and silence from us) to decode the content, discern a response, and act.

    It is also useful to think of our role in communicating as catechists within a standard communication model. The step after the receiver has decoded the message is “feedback”. It is the feedback that the receiver gives to the sender that enables the sender to discern the understanding of and the next response to the message that was sent.

    Our model for feedback is Christ himself; look at the number of times he had to “repackage” the same message about himself to the disciples when the feedback he was receiving showed they didn’t get it. Consider also at the number of times Christ used time-out, silence, lonely places, boat trips and mountain tops to give the disciples the time, space and distance from “noise of the day” to enable the disciples to discern his message. At other times he used meals (and presumably the local custom of wine with it) to create the time, space and atmosphere for the host and guests to get to know him and his message.

    I also imagine that the walks with the disciples from one village to the next, the times with Martha, Mary and Lazarus, the meals with the tax-collectors and Zacchaeus, the discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well, and so on, would not have involved Jesus giving long or constant catechetical instruction; rather, what I imagine is periods of long silence as the discussion is absorbed, discerned and clarified. What do you imagine it would have been like?

    Perhaps we could incorporate more of Jesus’ models into our models for catechesis.

  2. I once read an article about how liturgical ministers work at inserting moments of silence into the planned liturgy when the focus should have been on prayerfully inserting noise and movement into the silence where God is.
    I cannot imagine an Inquiry session without words. I know that is what we humans use for communication of our thoughts. Words and facial expressions and gestures are all important. But there are valuable moments of silence while Inquirers are absorbing, thinking, deciding, which I should not be interrupting with words.

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