How to know what we can (and should) adapt in the RCIA rites

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5 thoughts on “How to know what we can (and should) adapt in the RCIA rites”

  1. I think the best adaptation happens when the presider has really studied the dialog and prayers. When the presider can make the words his own and be comfortable with the ritual and text, the rite flows and the assembly is engaged.

    The statement about the “door knocking” jarred me. I am going to find a more suitable way to introduce those to be accepted this year.

  2. In the early ’80’s I had the privilege of driving Rev Balthasar Fischer to Chicago O’Hare after a series of seminars on the RCIA at the University of Notre Dame. (Fischer chaired Study Group 22, the group who did the groundwork on the catechumenate for Vatican II and the actual revision after the Council.) We discussed adaptation of the rites. (At the time a big issue was moving the Romans 6 reading to after the baptisms & confirmations [a recognition that it is the first mystagogical lesson]). Fisher’s response was “do what works in your particular worshiping community.”

    Granted, Fisher had just participated in a series of seminars with graduate students focused on baptismal liturgy and his driver had been working “in the field” in the local diocese for several years, so his response may seem too simplistic. Personally, I found and continue to find, it a wise response.

    The parameters you set in this article make sense. It is good to have the “cookbook” to start with but, with experience, one can adapt to the needs of the particular congregation and the needs of the particular group you have at any given time.

    We adapt all the time. In fact, in addition to the RCIA, we look at the Episcopal, Lutheran and Presbyterian rites when we are working on specific rites in a specific year. For example, look at the “Affirmation of the Vocation of the Baptized in the World” given to us by the ELCA as a great way to complete Mystagogia (Welcome to Christ; Lutheran Rites for the Catechumenate; Augsburg Fortress, 1997).

  3. One of the principles I use to make adaptations is that the ritual words and actions be heard and seen. To this end, I have the catechumens and candidates spread throughout the church as they are signed on their senses by their sponsors (an optional part of the Rite). Also I endeavor to engage the congregation by giving them a speaking part such as the affirmation that they too will pray for and support the candidates on their journey of faith.

  4. Sr. Kathleen Rooney

    We do not have the catechumens leave Mass after the Liturgy of the Word. The historical reasons for doing so no longer exist. Many of our catechumens have been coming to Mass with their husbands or wives and children, or with friends, and now they have to leave Mass, leaving family in the pews as they depart. The candidates remain for the entire Mass, leading to a division in the RCIA community and in the catechesis. Our catechumens stay for the entire liturgy, receive a blessing from the priest at communion time, and then our catechesis following the Sunday Mass includes not only the Liturgy of the Word, but the Liturgy of the Eucharist as well. Prayer, faith sharing, formation and information is available to both candidate and catechumen at the same time. I would like to see the RCIA instructions begin to address this with a 21st century mindset. We do not need to be protected from catechumens any longer…they are not infiltrators or a “moles” trying to persecute Christians. If small children stay for the entire Mass, why not adult catechumens? If non-Catholic visitors can stay for the entire Mass, why not adult catechumens?

  5. Dan Centurioni

    We had the privilege of having Fr. Paul Turner as our leader on our Beginings and Beyond week long workshop in Villa Park, CA. He and the Forum team had many interesting ideas on adaptation, i.e. having the elect bake the Eucharistic bread, decorate the candle etc. We tried some of the adaptations but have since moved on to simpler methods. It was just way too much time to ask of the elect before holy week and the bread never came out properly unleavened,
    We adapted through our own experience as well as what we would witness at other churches that seemed to work well. Having the elect and sponsors outside after each scrutiny handing out prayer cards asking people to pray for them stands out as one thing we borrowed from another parish.
    Just keep watching to see what works and what doesn’t.

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