The rite gives three options for presenting the candidates for baptism. With eminent Roman pragmatism, and choices and some of the rubrics are as follows:
A When Baptism Is Celebrated Immediately at the Baptismal Font
The celebrant accompanied by the assisting ministers goes directly to the font. An assisting deacon or other minister calls the candidates forward and their godparents present them. Then the candidates and the godparents take their place around the font in such a way as not to block the view of the congregation. The invitation to prayer (RCIA 220) and the Litany of the Saints (RCIA 221) follow.
[If there are a great many candidates, they and their godparents simply take their place around the font during the singing of the Litany of the Saints.]
In practice, the catechumenate director (“another” minister) calls the candidates. It would seem the rite presupposes the activity of the deacon in the catechumenate, but it does provide for the situation when the deacon isn’t active.
In option B–which I’ve used more often–the same prescriptions about calling and presenting are given. Note two things: the Litany of the Saints becomes the processional music, and will even be jumped in the order of the rite, and that Roman practicality suggests the candidates and godparents just join the procession if there are huge numbers.
B When Baptism Is Celebrated after a Procession to the Font
… In this case an assisting deacon … godparents present them.
[If there are a great many candidates, they and their godparents simply take their place in the procession.]
The procession is formed in this order: a minister carries the Easter candle at the head of the procession (unless, outside the Easter Vigil, it already rests at the baptismal font), the candidates with their godparents come next, then the celebrant with the assisting ministers. The Litany of the Saints (RCIA 221) is sung during the procession. … The invitation to prayer (RCIA 220) precedes the blessing of the water.
C When Baptism is Celebrated in the Sanctuary …
The instructions for option C parallel what was given in A: who calls the candidates forward and who presents them, not to block the view of the assembly, the invitation to prayer and Litany follow in that order.
It is curious that the procession to the font isn’t listed as the “A” choice. It would be my first choice, unless the church architecture was an absolute obstacle. After the homily, the choreography would go like this:
- Candidates invited forward
- Godparents present/escort them
- Litany of the Saints sung during the procession
- People surround the font and the rite continues with the invitation to prayer and blessing of water, which we’ll cover in the next post.