RCIA 75: The Catechumenate Period: Aiming For Maturity

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Good catechumenate directors know “RCIA 75″ and can quote it. With this post we begin an examination of numbers 75-80, a chapter entitled “Period of the Catechumenate.” This is the manual guiding parishes on the task of how to conduct RCIA in a parish. It’s the basis for effective and fruitful catechumenate ministry. We’ll take #75 spread out over the next five posts in this series.

75. The catechumenate is an extended period during which the candidates are given suitable pastoral formation and guidance, aimed at training them in the Christian life. (Ad Gentes 14) In this way, the dispositions manifested at their acceptance into the catechumenate are brought to maturity. This is achieved in four ways.

Commentary:

How long is an extended period? Many parishes, though not as many as twenty or thirty years ago, align this period within a secular academic year, concluding at Easter. We will see that in the rite, the period of catechumenate ends at the beginning of Lent. When might that period begin? Let’s consider the other qualities of the catechumenate period before we draw a conclusion not from expediency and parish expectations.

Note the holistic approach of the catechumenate period. It is intended as far more than a “class.” The training is not in doctrine alone, but in the whole “Christian life.” How long does it take someone to learn the facts of Christianity? Probably not as long as it takes for a whole way of life to take root.

Looking back, we see that the “dispositions” of the candidates at the Rite of Acceptance are, or should be the same, as those that will carry these individuals into the expression of their Christian lives. In other words, there should be a building on what has gone before.

We will carefully examine those “four ways” over the next few days. They include a “suitable catechesis,” a “familiarity with the Christian way of life” with the support of the Christian community, liturgy, and an active apostolic life

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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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6 Responses to RCIA 75: The Catechumenate Period: Aiming For Maturity

  1. + Alan says:

    Just clarifying here – is this actually saying that the catechumen is to be “brought to maturity” during RCIA?? Before they are even formally incorporated into the Body of Christ? Surely not.

    I’m all for some kind of “extended period” of preparation so that people are able to grasp, as much as they can, what they’re saying “yes” to. But I wonder if getting the concept of Christian life maturity mixed in with this wouldn’t be in some sense harmful to the new babe in Christ. For someone to tell them or lead them to believe that they are now “mature” as Christians at that point could put them on a very crooked path from the get-go.

    Perhaps this is not what’s being said, but when I read it, it made my head go tilt, so I just wanted to check. Even if we have no roadblocks or pitfalls along the way, the process leading to maturity in Christ is a years kind of thing, ultimately a lifetime – but at least years. Peace to you.

  2. Todd says:

    Thanks for commenting, Alan.

    The Church seems to indicate the formal incorporation takes place at Acceptance, not Baptism.

    In context, and by experience, I’d say the Church is correct to insist the catechumen possess a relative maturity by the time of Lent. Mature Christians would probably agree that total maturity is a mortally impossible project. The subsequent texts will give a clearer idea of just what this maturity should or might entail.

  3. Liam says:

    Perhaps one might distinguish between formal and sacramental incorporation.

  4. Jim McK says:

    “the dispositions manifested at their acceptance into the catechumenate are brought to maturity.”

    It is not the catechumen who is brought to maturity, but the dispositions that set them on the path to baptism. I suppose that means the desire to become a member of the Church will mature into a desire to know, love and serve God in the community formed by His Son. Something along those lines.

    After baptism, the elect become ‘neophytes’ for a year, a term that implies some immaturity. I know I have been going to RCIA classes for 10+ years, and I have doubts about whether I am mature yet.

  5. + Alan says:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Jim. That makes much more sense. And the incorporation thing, I was thinking on more a theological level – one is not technically united with the Life of Christ until Sacramental Baptism (or perhaps baptism of desire, but that’s another story). Of course the Grace of God drawing someone into that union could start long before that – this more akin to “gestation” before birth I suppose.

    And as to whether or not any of us is or will be “perfectly mature” – probably not, but we’re all on the path – from one level to the next, and on and on. We’ll certainly always need to be continually transformed into His Image. That kind of maturity is a relative thing.

  6. Pingback: RCIA: Program or process? And does it matter? | Team RCIA

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