Let’s wrap up the RCIA’s instruction on “exceptional circumstances,” shall we?
336. Before the abbreviated form of the rite is celebrated the candidate must have gone through an adequate period of instruction and preparation before baptism, in order to purify his or her motives for requesting baptism and to grow stronger in conversion and faith.
Let’s stop here for a moment. This is an important value. A person may approach the Church for initiation, but the Church has, in return, certain expectations of a person who has deemed themselves ready and worthy:
1. In purifying motives, we are not asking for a complete adjustment of what brings them to Christ. We accept the inner movement of the Holy Spirit. It is only fair to the best experience of our newcomers that we assist them in honing and focusing their intent. At the very least, they should understand what the Christian life means and adjust their motivations, if need be, accordingly.
2. The Church is wise to respect first faith, but also prudent to allow the candidate to be tested. The catechumenate should certainly be long enough that a person will be confronted with the early experience of spiritual dryness. Having faith in an atmosphere of affirmation and good feelings is one thing. Maintaining one’s faith during trials: that’s another matter entirely.
… The candidate should also have chosen godparents or a godparent (see RCIA 11) and become acquainted with the local Christian community (see nos. 39, 75.2).
337. This rite includes elements that express the presentation and welcoming of the candidate and that also express the candidate’s clear and firm resolve to request Christian initiation, as well as the Church’s approval of the candidate. A suitable liturgy of the word is also celebrated, then the sacraments of initiation.
338. Normally the rite is celebrated within Mass. The choice of readings should be in keeping with the character of the celebration; they may be either those of the day or those in the Lectionary for Mass, ritual Mass, “Christian Initiation apart from the Easter Vigil.” The other Mass texts are those of one of the ritual Masses “Christian Initiation: Baptism” or of another Mass. After receiving baptism and confirmation, the candidate takes part for the first time in the celebration of the eucharist.
339. If at all possible, the celebration should take place on a Sunday (see no. 27), with the local community taking an active part.
The values of good liturgy: the primacy of Sunday, the importance of active participation, the support of a faith community–it’s good to see all of these in place. Comments?