The Rite of Sending itself, inserted into the Liturgy of the Word just after the homily is simple and straightforward. Without getting into too much detail in the texts, it consists of a Presentation (111), an Affirmation (112) by the Godparents (and the Assembly), a possible Signing of the Book of the Elect (113), Intercessions (114) for and a Prayer over the Catechumens (115), and a Dismissal (116) and continuation (117) of the Liturgy of the Eucharist (as it would occur at a usual Sunday Mass).
Let’s get to the rubrics and ritual texts of that first part:
111. After the homily, the priest in charge of the catechumens’ initiation, or a deacon, a catechist, or a representative of the community, presents the catechumens, using the following or similar words.
Reverend Father, these catechumens, whom I now present to you are beginning their final period of preparation and purification leading to their initiation. They have found strength in God’s grace and support in our community’s prayers and example.
Now they ask that they be recognized for the progress they have made in their spiritual formation and that they receive the assurance of our blessings and prayers as they go forth to the rite of election celebrated this afternoon (or: next Sunday (or specify the day) ) by Bishop N.
The celebrant replies:
Those who are to be sent to the celebration of election in Christ, come forward, together with those who will be your godparents.
One by one, the catechumens are called by name. Each catechumen, accompanied by a godparent (or godparents), comes forward and stands before the celebrant.
Not too much ritual yet, but still: very instructive. Commentary:
It’s interesting that the presider for the Rite of Sending isn’t specified, but the presenter is. In most places, any priest assigned will preside at this liturgy, but a good case is made in other places that the pastor himself should receive the catechumens and ask the questions (RCIA 112).
Even though “similar words” may be used to present catechumens, it is instructive to note what is covered in these words. Lent is described as a period … of purification. God’s grace is a source of spiritual strength. The community provides prayer and example during the catechumenate period. This optional ritual offers the community at-large a public witness of the spiritual formation of the catechumens. For the first time in the rites, “election” is clarified as “election in Christ.” In a democracy, I suppose a bit of emphasis will need to be placed on the fact that new members are not a democratic choice by people, but an event of God’s grace. Finally, note that by the end of the catechumenate period, sponsors have been promoted to (or replaced by) godparents, the actual persons who will stand with these people at the Easter Vigil’s baptismal font. Catechumens aren’t the only ones making a final commitment as Lent commences.