RCIA 258-259: National and Local Adaptations

img_6803After a bit of a break from RCIA these past several days, let’s leap in with a post on two sections today. Liturgists and theologians know that the basic rites of the Church are written for adults. In these sections, the Church suggests one varies from the “red-n-black” to adapt for the spiritual need of children and their families.

258. Each conference of bishops may adapt and add to the form of the rite given here in order that the rite will more effectively satisfy local needs, conditions, and pastoral requirements. [The USCCB has done this by providing an optional "Rite of Election" before "Second Step: Penitential Rites (Scrutinies)."] The rites for the presentation of the Creed (nos. 157-162) and the Lord’s Prayer (nos. 178-183), adapted to the age of the children, may be incorporated. When the form of the rite of initiation for children is translated, the instructions and pray­ers should be adapted to their understanding. Furthermore, in addition to any liturgical text translated from the Latin editio typica, the conference of bishops may also approve an original, alternative text that says the same thing in a way more suited to children (see Christian Initiation, General In­troduction, no. 32).

259. In following this form of the rite of Christian initiation the celebrant  should make full and wise use of the options mentioned in Christian Initia­tion, General Introduction (nos. 34-35), in the Rite of Baptism for Children, Introduction (no. 31), and in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Introduc­tion (no. 35).

This is worth commentary on several points. First, the notion of liturgical adaptation is for the people, not the clergy or musicians or ministers. The rite is explicit: local needs, conditions, and pastoral requirements having to do with children and youth. Liturgy is not adapted for the convenience of the priest or musicians or RCIA leadership.

More adaptations are in the hands of bishops than clergy. RCIA 259 refers to options given when discussing how a parish priest should celebrate initiation rites. These options are already included in the rites. A priest should know where to find them and how to use them.

Did you notice the approval of “any” liturgical text to be freshly composed; “original alternative text(s)” as they put it? Sometimes the problem with armchair liturgists, especially internet ones, is the lack of depth of their familiarity with the issues. Responding to the question, “Why didn’t ICEL just translate?” one says, “That wasn’t their whole job.” The composition of alternate texts was put in ICEL’s hands, the bishops then approve them. (Where’s Rome?) Those texts, by the way, are the standard by which the newest Roman Missal should be judged.

Any of your own comments?

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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.

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