Here’s another small rubric that tells and implies a lot about this liturgy. Under the heading “Greeting,” we have only instruction, no actual words to say.
49. The celebrant greets the candidates in a friendly manner. He speaks to them, their sponsors, and all present, pointing out the joy and happiness of the Church. He may also recall for the sponsors and friends the particular experience and religious response by which the candidates, following their own spiritual path, have come to this first step.
Then he invites the sponsors and candidates to come forward. As they are taking their places before the celebrant, an appropriate song may be sung, for example, Psalm 63:1-8.
Lets break this down carefully. The “greeting” is a bit different than the ritual greeting “The Lord be with you” at the beginning of Mass. This seems to take the form of an introduction as we’ve seen in other sacramental rituals. The RCIA gives the topic: the ideal sense of welcome and the accompanying emotions felt by the Church when newcomers approach. The “optional” recall here might presume a less mature and aware community, one that doesn’t know these candidates, or some of them very well. The presumption here is a close-knit community that is open enough to relate stories of faith without the overtones of gossip or sharing personal confidences.
The rite presumes the candidates are in the midst of the community gathered, for the rubrics call for them to come forward. It doesn’t suggest they face the others, or stand with their backs to thir friends. That would seem to be a local practice.
The musical suggestion is interesting, isn’t it? It suggests a song may be sung, then it gives a Psalm text as an example. The text itself is very appropriate, and additionally, as an ordinary time common psalm, should be well-known to the parish. Remember this is an outside event, so the music chosen will need to be something done well unaccompanied, or assisted with portable instruments, such as a guitar or a hand drum.
Remember yesterday’s post in which the community inside is already singing in anticipation and prayer for the candidates. Two good music leaders are necessary for this rite.
Comments? Suggestions on how you have seen or handled this in your parish?