RCIA 22-25: The Rites of Triduum and Easter

img_6803When Lent is completed, we know the elect are baptized, but there’s more to the Triduum and Easter Season than the rituals and sacraments of the Vigil. First, there are preparation rites for Holy Saturday. Nearly all parishes make a practice of gathering the elect, godparents, catechists, and others associated with catechumenate ministry not only for the preparation rites, but for a “time of recollection,” as we read:

22. On Holy Saturday, when the elect refrain from work and spend their time in recollection, the various preparation rites may be celebrated: recitation or “return” of the Creed by the elect, the ephphetha rite, and the choosing of a Christian name (RCIA nos. 185-205)

Remember, these rites are optional, not required. What would determine their use? Hopefully something more deep than the personal preference of the parish leadership. My sense would be that these rites should be highlighted if the elect or some of them had struggled significantly with aspect of faith and the Creed. The “return” to the Creed confirms, as it were, the successful navigation of any struggles by the people entering the Church. Likewise the ephphetha rite for “being opened,” and the choice of a Christian name, if that was a needful choice for some or all. We’ll get to these preparation rites later, of course.

23. The celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation (RCIA nos. 206-243) should take place at the Easter Vigil itself (RCIA nos. 8 & 17). But if there are a great many catechumens, the sacraments are given to the majority that night and reception of the sacraments by the rest may be transferred to days within the Easter octave, whether at the principal church or at a mission station. In this case either the Mass of the day or one of the ritual Masses “Christian Initiation: Baptism” may be used and the readings chosen from those of the Easter Vigil.

This is an interesting adaptation, don’t you think? I cannot recall noticing it before. Do any readers know of the use of this adaptation within a cluster of parishes to provide for baptism at different churches? I wonder what the motivation for splitting up the elect might be: the liturgical and practical challenge of baptizing, say, a hundred people? Or perhaps a far-flung community under a single pastor?

24. In certain cases when there is serious reason, confirmation may be postponed until near the end of the period of postbaptismal catechesis, for example, Pentecost Sunday (see RCIA no 249).

A possibility that might be useful, though I’ve never known it to be used.

25. On all the Sundays of the Easter season after Easter Sunday, the so-called Masses for the neophytes are to be scheduled. The entire community and the newly baptized with their godparents should be encouraged to participate.

Show of hands: how many parishes schedule neophyte Masses?

Note that the preparation rites are optional, and that baptisms may be celebrated for good reason during the Easter octave, but “entire communities” are given no wiggle room on neophyte Masses: they “are to be scheduled.” More than one, seemingly, if one isn’t enough.

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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.
This entry was posted in post-conciliar liturgy documents, RCIA, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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