RCIA 211: Renunciation of Sin and Profession of Faith

img_6803This is the longest section in the instruction (206-217) on the Easter Vigil. I’m going to chop up the two paragraphs. I find this section rich, but pretty dense with the repeated phrase “renunciation of sin and profession of faith. The Church tries to lay out the connection of the two, such that they form one liturgical rite. The strong implication in this section is that a believer cannot compartmentalize her or his life. You can’t profess faith without renouncing sin. You can’t renounce sin, in the sense of deciding not to do wrong acts, without having an accompaniment of faith. Ultimately, the power resides outside of ourselves, or any decision we make, however good it might be.

211. In their renunciation of sin and profession of faith those to be baptized express their explicit faith in the paschal mystery that has already been recalled in the blessing of water and that will be connoted by the words of the sacrament soon to be spoken by the baptizing minister.

This is obvious, placing this ritual after the Scriptural references in the blessing of the water. It seems a bit of a liturgical break not to go directly from the blessing of the water directly to baptism. But the Church is wise to focus not on the materials of the rite, but on a natural progression in the expression of faith.

Adults are not saved unless they come forward of their own accord and  with the will to accept God’s gift through their own belief.  The faith of those to be baptized is not simply the faith of the Church, but the personal faith of each one of them and each one of them is expected to keep it a living faith.

Adults cannot be saved when they lack a personal commitment: is this a valid corollary? Note that the will to be baptized is not a momentary impulse, but must be maintained through life. The strong implication is that the renunciation of sin and profession of faith is more than a liturgical act. It is an aspect of a continual conversion.

Why is this renunciation + profession linked to the dayof baptism and not separated out like other initiation rites? Because…

Therefore the renunciation of sin and the profession of faith are an apt prelude to baptism, the sacrament of that faith by which the elect hold fast to God and receive new birth from him. Because of the renunciation of sin and the profession of faith, which form the one rite, the elect will not be baptized merely passively, but will receive this great sacrament with the active resolve to renounce error and to hold fast to God. By their own personal act in renouncing sin and professing their faith, the elect, as was prefigured in the first covenant with the patriarchs, renounce sin and Satan in order to commit themselves for ever to the promise of the Savior and to the mystery of the Trinity. By professing their faith before the celebrant and the entire community, the elect express the intention, developed to maturity during the preceding periods of initiation, to enter a new covenant with Christ. Thus these adults embrace the faith that through divine help the Church has handed down, and are baptized in that faith.

It’s really more than a last-minute, are-you-sure-you-want-to-do-this.

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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 211: Renunciation of Sin and Profession of Faith

  1. Marvelous site, thanks for sharing !!

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