Regardless of the number of rites or adaptations used, the rite provides a simple conclusion, optional. RCIA 203 is a brief rubric that says these rituals of Holy Saturday “may be concluded with a prayer of blessing over the elect and a dismissal.”
Here is the blessing, the only option given:
through your holy prophets
you proclaimed to all who draw near to you,
“Wash and be cleansed,”
and through Christ you have granted us rebirth in the Spirit.
Bless these your servants
as they earnestly prepare for baptism.
Fulfill your promise:
sanctify them in preparation for your gifts,
that they may come to be reborn as your children
and enter the community of the Church.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
RCIA 205 gives another brief rubric: an optional announcement of time and place for the Easter Vigil, and a dismissal in these or other words:
May the Lord be with you until we gather again to celebrate his paschal mystery.
And with this dismissal, the period of preparation for the unbaptized comes to a conclusion. All of these rites have been marked with significant flexibility, a flexibility requiring forethought and judgment on the part of the priest and parish. Remember, all these rites we’ve looked at since RCIA 48 are for the unbaptized. There is a whole different set of rituals for Christians who seek to enter the Catholic Church–and we’ll get to those in due time.
My experience is that gatherings on Holy Saturday before the Vigil are commonplace in American parishes. Even if the pastor and catechumenate director judge that none of these preparation rites are appropriate to the situation of the newcomers or the parish, it would seem that a Word service, at minimum, should be offered. In one of my parishes, we celebrated Morning Prayer in place of the usual 8AM Mass, inviting the catechumens and the rest of the RCIA community to pray.
Any similar experiences from the readers? Comments?