The Elect on Good Friday

A correspondent asks:

When are the Elect dismissed on Good Friday? Still after the Homily as
usual?

How could they venerate the cross if not present in the liturgy?

It’s a good question. In most parishes I’ve served, the elect were not dismissed on Good Friday. Holy Thursday is a more tangled situation, as some ministers might think the Eucharistic procession is an experience worth opening to the elect.

In any event, the document gives some helpful guidance. In RCIA 47, we are told of those preparing for baptism …

… the Church nourishes them with the word of God and sustains them by means of liturgical celebrations. The catechumens should be eager, then, to take part in celebrations of the word of God and to receive blessings and other sacramentals.

What holds for catechumens certainly holds for the elect. I would think that those who have celebrated the Rite of Acceptance should avail themselves of the following: blessings of St Blase, of the home, ashes on Ash Wednesday, the experience of palms or other blessed objects, and certainly something like the veneration of the cross on Good Friday.

Practically, most parishes dismiss the catechumens and elect after the homily, but the rite (no 75, part 3) indicates a “kindly” dismissal should take place “before the liturgy of the Eucharist begins.” So if there was a thought to dismiss the elect on Good Friday, the best time would likely be before the Communion Rite, after veneration of the cross is completed. Note that since we do not celebrate Mass on Good Friday (technically speaking, it is a word and Communion service) there isn’t actually a liturgy of the Eucharist.

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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.
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3 Responses to The Elect on Good Friday

  1. However, the General Intercessions precede the Veneration of the Cross. The reason the catechumens are dismissed at Mass following the homily is not only because they are unable to participate in Communion but also because they are unable to pray the prayers of the faithful–the Creed, the general intercessions, and the Eucharistic Prayer.

    Taking this into consideration, if any dismissal takes place on Good Friday, it seems more appropriate to dismiss the catechumens/Elect prior to the General Intercessions.

    If we see Veneration of the Cross as a more devotional act rather than a proper action of the baptized, perhaps then the catechumens/Elect may return to the assembly to offer veneration of the cross. Granted, this is unusual choreography, but not necessarily strange. They might even remain in the assembly for the distribtion of Communion without receiving Communion (or a blessing, as is the custom in some places).

    Thom Morris, in his book The RCIA: Transforming the Church, suggests that the catechumens/Elect, once they are dismissed prior to the Intercession, return with their sponsors/Godparents after the liturgy to venerate the cross in private prayer. I like this option.

    • Todd says:

      Thanks, Diana. I think the case for dismissing catechumens is slightly stronger than for the elect, but I will appeal on a few fronts here and disagree gently with my friend Thom.

      – There is the understanding of the Triduum as a single liturgy, not as three distinct celebrations. The dismissal, then later return strikes me as awkward. But not insurmountable.

      – Presumably the elect are indeed able to pray the Creed, having already “received” it, either during Lent or as an option during the catechumenate period.

      – My understanding is that the non-baptized are not only dismissed from, but also dismissed to. If the catechumenate ministry has a substantive breaking open for the Triduum liturgies, I might see it as an alternative. But honestly, in a parish that does liturgy well what could break open the Word more effectively than participating in the Mandatum or the Veneration of the Cross?

      That said, if I had a parish RCIA colleague who insisted, I wouldn’t press the issue not to dismiss. The question may be well worth raising each year and assessing the pastoral and spiritual benefit for each Lent’s particular group of elect.

  2. Very awesome post. Truely!

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