So what about the usual times for accepting people into the order of catechumens?
18. The following should be noted about the time of celebrating the rite of acceptance into the order of catechumens (RCIA nos. 41-74).
1. It should not be too early, but should be delayed until the candidates, according to their own dispositions and situation, have had sufficient time to conceive an initial faith and to show the first signs of conversion (RCIA 42)
2. In places where the number of candidates is smaller than usual, the rite of acceptance should be delayed until a group is formed that is sufficiently large for catechesis and the liturgical rites.
3. Two dates in the year, or three if necessary, are to be fixed as the usual times for carrying out this rite.
So much for the mindless practice of the First Sunday of Advent.
We’ve read earlier that the catechumenate is a gradual process (RCIA 4) and it may take several years (RCIA 7.2). So we can conclude that counting backward from the Rite of Election within a single year isn’t relevant. It is often discerned that appropriate moments during the liturgical year are good choices. I find ordinary time Sundays the best. All Saints Day is a good choice, too. I would aim for celebrating this rite just prior to Lent, too. with an eye to the following year’s Vigil. In my years of directing (four) a catechumenate and being the parish liturgist for it (seventeen) I’ve found that the Lent and Triduum observances inspire inquirers, especially in an open and welcoming parish. Some Sunday during the summer would be a good time for the rite of acceptance.
How many parishes out there still trying to cram a catechumenate into nine or ten weeks, like last year? Is that working, from what you see?