RCIA 262-264: Receiving the Children

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The Rite of Acceptance for child catechumens parallels the rite for adults somewhat closely. One exception is that it doesn’t list the musical choices given in RCIA 48ff. Let’s read the rubrics

262. The priest or deacon, wearing an alb or surplice with stole, comes to the place where the children are waiting with their parents or guardians or, alternatively, with their sponsors.

In RCIA 48, a psalm or song is mentioned. Not here, but I wouldn’t see why it wouldn’t be sung.

263. The celebrant and the community present greet the children and their parents or sponsors, pointing out the joy and happiness of the Church at their presence. Next he invites the children and their parents or sponsors to come forward and stand before him.

No Psalm 63 here, either, as we saw in RCIA 49.

The opening dialogue (RCIA 264) is adapted in an expected way over the adult rite in RCIA 50. The celebrant is instructed to ask these or other questions that elicit a response along this theme:

What do you want to become?

A Christian.

Why do you want to become a Christian?

Because I believe in Christ.

What do you gain by believing in Christ?

Eternal  life.

The celebrant concludes this opening dialogue with a brief catechesis, suited to the children’s age and circumstances, on the step they are taking. He may use these or similar words and may ask the children, as a sign of their assent, to repeat the final quotation from the words of Christ.

Since you already believe in Christ and want us to prepare you for baptism, we welcome you joyfully into our Christian family, where you will come to know Christ better day by day. Together with us you will try to live as children of God, for our Lord has taught us: “Love God with all your heart and love one another as I have loved you.”

This “brief catechesis” has its parallel in RCIA 52, the Candidates’ First Acceptance of the Gospel.” Indeed, the rite provides for a vocal acceptance by the option of inviting the children to repeat the words of Jesus.

Some Catholics are offended by the apparent dumbing down of rites for children. Let’s keep in mind the initial urge for adaptation is not for the liturgy to be in the language of children for its adult hearers, nor are thing omitted so the priest can get to the next appointment, or that musician ministers can’t be bothered with playing for children. The instruction of the previous sections (251-261) is all about the accommodation and expression of the faith of children in an appropriate way that respects the liturgical intent, the community’s role, and the social capability of young people.

The older the catechumens, the more like the adult rites these adaptations should look. In fact, I’d say adolescents should be welcomed with the adult rite, or even among the adult inquirers.

As for the music, in most First World cultures (and others, too, I suspect) music might serve as a focus of participation and familiarity for children. If a child catechumenate is celebrating a separate Rite of Acceptance, what better music ministry could be offered than that of young people, of peers. RCIA 262-63 don’t list musical choices, but RCIA 48-49 do. I’d go with the form of the adult rite on that score.

One last comment: I do like the adapted dialogue here. It’s a clear instance in which simple and direct language is an improvement over a fussy vernacular. Not that the dialogue in RCIA 50 was so wordy: it did mention the commitment to the Church, which is covered by the “brief catechesis of #264.

Other comments, observations?

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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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