Ad Gentes 14

These paragraphs outline Vatican II’s approach to the restored catechumenate. It was briefly mentioned in Sacrosanctum Concilium 64-65, but gets a little more elaboration here:

Those who, through the Church, have accepted from God a belief in Christ are admitted to the catechumenate by liturgical rites. The catechumenate is not a mere expounding of doctrines and precepts, but a training period in the whole Christian life, and an apprenticeship duty drawn out, during which disciples are joined to Christ their Teacher. Therefore, catechumens should be properly instructed in the mystery of salvation and in the practice of Gospel morality, and by sacred rites which are to be held at successive intervals, they should be introduced into the life of faith, of liturgy, and of love, which is led by the People of God.

This seems fairly explicit. Bringing people into the Church involves more than teaching. The council bishops emphasize a “training period,” an “apprenticeship.” It should take time. Liturgy should be a part of it, as a way of introducing people into the community and into the Christian way of life. Father Smith, take note.

Then, when the sacraments of Christian initiation have freed them from the power of darkness (cf. Col. 1:13), having died with Christ been buried with Him and risen together with Him (cf. Rom. 6:4-11; Col. 2:12-13; 1 Peter 3:21-22; Mark 16:16), they receive the Spirit (cf. 1 Thess. 3:5-7; Acts 8:14-17) of adoption of (daughters and) sons and celebrate the remembrance of the Lord’s death and resurrection together with the whole People of God.

Note that the council bishops foresaw the need for the season of Easter as well as Lent to reflect the pastoral needs of new members.

It is to be desired that the liturgy of the Lenten and Paschal seasons should be restored in such a way as to dispose the hearts of the catechumens to celebrate the Easter mystery at whose solemn ceremonies they are reborn to Christ through baptism.

Father Smith alone is not enough, according to the bishops:

But this Christian initiation in the catechumenate should be taken care of not only by catechists or priests, but by the entire community of the faithful, so that right from the outset the catechumens may feel that they belong to the people of God. And since the life of the Church is an apostolic one, the catechumens also should learn to cooperate wholeheartedly, by the witness of their lives and by the profession of their faith, in the spread of the Gospel and in the building up of the Church.

The notion that Christian newcomers have to wait to be involved in some way in the Christian enterprise is also rejected. Part of an apprenticeship is to roll up one’s sleeves and start doing the work.

Finally, the juridic status of catechumens should be clearly defined in the new code of Canon law. For since they are joined to the Church, they are already of the household of Christ, and not seldom they are already leading a life of faith, hope, and charity.

Just in case you didn’t know, once a person is brought into the catechumenate through the Rite of Acceptance, that person is a member of the Church. How should that work out in parish life? What would you say?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Ad Gentes 14

  1. Pingback: RCIA 75: The Catechumenate Period: Aiming For Maturity « Catholic Sensibility

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