An RCIA calendar for celebrating the initiation rites outside the usual times

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “An RCIA calendar for celebrating the initiation rites outside the usual times”

  1. I admire the working out of a full schedule adapted to a different time, such as the one offered in this post. There are many good and practical suggestions in this post. That said, however, I must take issue with the Solemnity of the Assumption as a suitable choice for the day of Baptism.

    Baptism, if it is going to keep its central place and foundational character, is not well placed on a Marian feast. Neither should it take its keynote from any saint’s day. As important as Mary and the saints are, they are not the focus of this mystery; they are secondary. Baptism belongs on a Sunday, the day of the Resurrection.

    The Easter Vigil may look like Saturday on the calendar, but in liturgical time it is the beginning of Easter Sunday. Even infant baptism takes place on Sunday for preference.

    There’s a theological point here. The choices we make should be centered on Jesus and his paschal mystery. Baptism is Christocentric by nature. Nothing against Mary, but we are not baptized into Mary. Even in the arrangement of the liturgical year, Marian feasts are subordinate to feasts of the Lord.

    1. Hi Rita. Thank you for your very helpful insights. I do think a Marian feast can be a suitable choice for the day of baptism if the lens is focused on Mary as the first disciple and example of the “yes-ness” that is required of the elect/neophytes. But your points are well taken, and I am grateful for your clarifications.

    2. Hi Rita and Nick,
      I’m the first one to jump up and make sure we aren’t elevating Mary above Jesus. However, Marian Feast Days are properly pointed to Jesus and every Mass is centred on the Paschal Mystery. It is just a case of making sure that catechesis is done correctly (in every way you can make that work out).
      Moreover, the RCIA ritual says that initiation is proper to solemnities-and August 15 is no less of one than Sunday. If August 15 works out time wise it seems like a really cool chance to provide some formation on Mary’s role in the Church.

      Nick, I’m wondering why you have the three scrutinies still here though. At least in Canada (and I think in many US dioceses) at least one of them has been dispensed from which means we can’t do them.
      If that is true, I wonder what it could look like to have initiation (please God) earlier and have Mystagogy “end” (I don’t like saying it that way but I think you get it) on August 15, that could be interesting liturgically. Or what about the week earlier on Transfiguration?
      I think the moral of the story is that while it is sad and not the best that we have to wait to bring people in the Church, there are some awesome days coming up that fit what we’re trying to talk about.
      Thanks for getting me thinking 🙂

      1. Hi Becca. Thanks for your comments. The calendar I created is meant to be an example that would cover all possible scenarios. If it doesn’t exactly fit your region, you should, of course, adjust it accordingly. TeamRCIA has readers from all over the world, and situations vary greatly in different areas Also, it is important to note that a dispensation is not a restriction. If your bishop has dispensed your diocese from celebrating one or more of the scrutinies, that only means the obligation has been lifted. It does not mean that you cannot celebrate them once we are able to gather again.

        It is also important to note that we are not waiting to bring the elect into the church. They were made members of the household of God at the Rite of Acceptance, and we hope that during their catechumenate they were fully integrated into the life of the parish. They cannot yet join us at the eucharistic table, but then none of us can do that right now. So the elect can and should participate in the full life of the church as well as we are able in this lockdown situation. Once we are able to gather again, it should only be a matter of weeks (six at the most, fewer in other places) before they are able to be fully initiated and brought to the table.

        There are many Sundays and solemnities throughout the summer that have baptismal imagery or discipleship imagery. Any of them would excellent occasions for initiation. And if an ideal date presents itself but the readings don’t quite work, we have the option of using the readings from Easter Sunday as long as the date in question is not a solemnity (see RCIA 247).

        Thanks for all your great work in this ministry, and thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Clare M. Colella

    Hi! Thank you for these suggestions, and it’s good to have a sense of the importance of the scrutinies and other rites. We had already celebrated the Presentations of the Creed and Lord’s Prayer during the later part of the Catechumenate Period, as well as the Rites of Sending and Election. We had already celebrated the First Scrutiny with the parish community before the “closure” was imposed.

    So our schedule is different, since there can be dispensation by the Bishop. We do feel that we would like to celebrate at least the scrutinies. possibly on one Sunday and one weekday, and the preparation rites. Then our initiation rites can be celebrated more flexibly within a month or so of the lifting of the restrictions. Since we have been keeping in touch with our participants via mail, e-mail, phone and text, We are in process of setting up social media platform accounts for the groups that do not already have them. Godparents and sponsors continue to meet with their respective Elect or candidates, in whatever format works for them. The continuing formation and conversations, shared prayer keep us closely in contact. Each one of us is creating paths that respond to our needs in tune with the process as the vision expresses. So again — thanks. God bless.

    1. Hi Clare. You are doing great work, as always! Every time I hear you (or read you) talk about how you are guiding the catechumens and candidates, I’m impressed with how effortless you make it seem. And I know how hard you must be working to make it seem that way. Thanks for your dedication and commitment to this ministry.

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