As Easter draws closer, we tend to get a flurry of questions at TeamRCIA. Many of the e-mails and voice mails have a tinge of panic about them. So the answer to every question is, don’t panic. Even if you’ve overlooked something huge, no one’s eternal salvation is at risk.
No matter how big a mistake you might have made, you can always resolve to do better next year. So with that in mind, here are some things folks want to know.
One of our catechumens was unable to attend the Rite of Election. Can the bishop delegate this task to our pastor?
Yes, the bishop can delegate your pastor to celebrate the Rite of Election. Also, if your catechumen will be missing any of the scrutinies, your pastor can celebrate them with the catechumen during the week. If you celebrate them outside of Mass, a deacon can also preside at the scrutinies.
Is it okay to baptize an infant at the Vigil if there are no elect or candidates that year?
Yes. See the rubrics in the Roman Missal, “The Easter Vigil,” 48-52, which refer to “children.” This is not a reference to catechumens who are children who have reached the age of reason; they are considered adults in the liturgy. “Children” in these rubrics refer to infants to be baptized, since they mention that their parents or godparents are questioned.
Are children who are to be baptized and celebrate first Communion even part of RCIC? Would they be considered part of the Elect?
There is no Rite of Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC). The Church only has the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
Unbaptized children who have reached the age of reason would be initiated through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. They are considered adults for the purposes of the initiation rituals.
Children who have celebrated the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and who have been catechumens for at least one full liturgical year are eligible to become Elect, assuming they have been fully trained in living a Christian life.
The children Elect would ordinarily be initiated at the Easter Vigil through the three sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation, and eucharist. All three are required, and confirmation may not be delayed to a later time.
For pastoral reasons, children Elect may also be initiated during the Easter Season instead of at the Easter Vigil.
It appears that the Rite of Acceptance is new for confirmation candidates. Is this a new rite for them, or has it not been utilized until now?
For baptized candidates who are preparing only for confirmation, there is no such thing as a “Rite of Acceptance.” If you find something like that, it’s not an official, legal, or even appropriate rite to celebrate with baptized persons. The full title of the Rite of Acceptance found in the RCIA is the “Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens.” The Rite of Acceptance therefore is celebrated only with those who are entering into the canonical Order of Catechumens. This order is only for those who are unbaptized and have publically committed to following the gospel way of life in preparation for baptism. Thus, a Rite of Acceptance for those who are already baptized makes no sense.
There is some misunderstanding about this, and some publishers have created something called a Rite of Acceptance for confirmation candidates. You can also find something similar for those preparing for first Communion. Such rites do not properly honor the dignity of baptism.
If there is any kind of ritual that would be most appropriate for confirmation candidates to celebrate, it would be a liturgy of the word followed by a renewal of their baptismal promises, maybe an intercession included in the usual petitions, and a simple blessing over them. But there should be no signing of the senses or writing of names in a book as we do in the RCIA with unbaptized persons, since the candidates’ baptisms have already marked and claimed them with the Cross, and their names are already numbered among the faithful.
When is the appropriate time for the catechumens (not candidates) to be dismissed from Mass? After the collect or after the homily?
The catechumens are dismissed after the homily (see RCIA 75.3). The liturgy of the word on Sunday is the critical foundation of the catechumens’ formation. They must be present for it every week. The baptized candidates are dismissed at the end of Mass along with the rest of the faithful.
This year we have several candidates who have been baptized Catholic but never catechized. We also have two Protestants who are becoming Catholic. Do all of the candidates make a Profession of Faith (RCIA 584-586) or only the Protestant candidates?
The baptized Catholics do not make the profession of faith that you cite at paragraphs 584-586. The baptized Catholics instead renew their baptismal promises, which includes a renunciation of sin and a profession of faith (see RCIA 580-582). Note that all who are baptized, including the non-Catholic baptized candidates, also do this. But only the non-Catholic candidates make the additional profession of faith at RCIA 585 that is required of the Rite of Reception (584-586).