RCIA 75.1: Suitable Catechesis

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The first of four ways to bring Christian dispositions to maturity in catechumens:

75. A suitable catechesis is provided by priests or deacons, or by catechists and other members of the faithful, planned to be gradual and complete in its coverage, accommodated to the liturgical year, and solidly supported by celebrations of the word. This catechesis leads the catechumens not only to an appropriate acquaintance with dogmas and precepts but also to a profound sense of the mystery of salvation in which they desire to participate.

There’s a lot to unpack in these two sentences.

For the only time in section 75 are clergy mentioned explicitly.

What does this catechesis look like? “Complete” we would expect. “Gradual” implies that the clergy and catechists take their time with formation, that rushing or cramming is unsuited to the ends of the catechumenate period.

What does it mean to accommodate to the liturgical year? Some interpret this to endorse Lectionary-based catechesis. And some of these catechists match up the aspects of a “complete” catechesis to the content of the Sunday Lectionary. This assumes that preachers themselves are addressing the readings of the Liturgy of the Word, but catechumenate directors have many published resources available for this.

The most overlooked part of this is the fourth aspect, celebrations of the word. I read this implying that liturgies of the word–not just Bible readings, and not just the Sunday liturgy of the word–are part of the formation experience. In my experience, I would see this as the weak point of how American parishes conduct the catechumenate. All or most of the liturgical burden is placed on the Sunday experience, and there’s little inclination to ensure a liturgical celebration of the word in catechumenate gatherings.

Finally, note that “appropriate acquaintance with dogmas and precepts” does not imply a mastery. Note also the spiritual aspect: a “sense” of the mystery of salvation is at least as much of an aim as a head-knowledge.

Summing up, RCIA 75.1 tells us that formation is a team effort, that it unfolds gradually, that liturgy is essential to this unfolding, and that spiritual development complements the intellectual. Any other things you see in this section?

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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.

One Response to RCIA 75.1: Suitable Catechesis

  1. Pingback: GDC 144: The original pedagogy of faith « Catholic Sensibility

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