RCIA 152: Silent Prayer

img_6803It’s more than a simple invitation that the elect and community pray. There should be an address to the faith community, explaining for whom and what they should pray. Then the elect are addressed. Here’s the text:

152. After the homily, the elect with their godparents come forward and stand before the celebrant.

The celebrant first addresses the assembly of the faithful, inviting them to pray in silence and to ask that the elect will be given a spirit of repentance,  a sense of sin, and the true freedom of the children of God.

The celebrant then addresses the elect, inviting them also to pray in silence and suggesting that as a sign of their inner spirit of repentance they bow their heads or kneel; he concludes his remarks with the following or similar words:

Elect of God, bow your heads [kneel down] and pray.

The elect bow their heads or kneel and all pray for some time in silence. After the period of silent prayer, the community and the elect stand for the intercessions.

On occasion, I have seen the assembly invited to kneel as well, but I’m not entirely sure the practice is in keeping with the overall spirit of the rite. I’ve also seen the elect remain kneeling during the intercessions, which does seem in keeping with the prayers that are addressed to God on their behalf. Either way, this “some time” of silent prayer should be substantial. What do you think?

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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.

5 Responses to RCIA 152: Silent Prayer

  1. churchmouse says:

    What could be wrong with everyone kneeling in humble prayer?

    Disagree about ‘substantial’ silent prayer. They should be doing that before Mass / service, arriving early enough to do so.

    Interesting use of ‘elect’ here.

  2. Todd says:

    Thanks churchmouse for commenting.

    As for all kneeling, it’s just a question in the back of my mind. My parishes often do it, but I wonder if it’s too egalitarian a gesture, like inviting non-Catholics to approach the altar for a blessing.

    As for a substantial silence, I think about a minute or more would be appropriate. Agreement on silence before Mass, which is a devotional silence. Silence in the liturgy serves to focus the attention and intentions of those not singing, listening, etc.

    “Elect” is the official term for a person who has been chosen for baptism.

  3. churchmouse says:

    Thanks, Todd.

    I would say no more than a minute for silence.

    I got what ‘elect’ meant, but it’s a strange use. Why not continue to say ‘catechumen’ as they used to do? I am familiar with ye olde ways of the Roman Catholic Church (could be before your time) and don’t understand this constant need to ‘improve’ things which don’t need enhancement.

  4. Todd says:

    “Catechumen” would be reserved for those in the catechumenate period proper. I suspect that there’s a catechetical connection to the Roman ritual usage here. I’ve already posted that the RCIA presumes catechetical instruction is completed by the time of Lent. The newcomers are undergoing their intense preparation, and have already been “elected” at the Rite of Election.

    I do hear people referred to as “catechumens” during Lent, and I think most everyone knows what that means. Roman ritual language does tend to be more exact, though there are goofs here and there in the rites.

    The distinction between catechumens and elect dates back to the “brown book,” the first draft of the RCIA in 1972. I’m pretty sure this kind of language would have been Patristic in origin. But I would bow to the knowledge of a baptism scholar on that one.

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