RCIA 54-55: Signing of the Candidates with the Cross


You’ve seen the ritual, I’m sure. The infant baptism parallel happens after the parents are quizzed on the child’s name and what they ask of the Church. RCIA 54 has the rubric:

54. Next the cross is traced on the forehead of the candidates (or, at the discretion of ther diocesan bishop, in front of the forehead for candidates  in whose culture the act of touching may not seem proper (see RCIA no. 33.3)); at the discretion of the celebrant the signing of one, several, or all of the senses may follow. The celebrant alone says the formularies accompanying each signing.

More often you will see the signing of several senses. We’ll get to that in the next post.

Ever practical, Roman sensibility gives options for few candidates in RCIA 55:

With their sponsors, the candidates come one by one to the celebrant; with his thumb he traces a cross on the forehead; then, if there is to be no signing of the senses, the sponsor does the same.

… and an option when there are “a great many candidates.”

Then the celebrant makes the sign of the cross over all together, as a cross is traced by a sponsor or catechist on the forehead of each candidate.

Common to both situations is the formula that accompanies this signing:

Receive the cross on your forehead.
It is Christ who now strengthens you
with this sign of his love.
Learn to know and follow him.

All sing or say the following or other suitable acclamation:

Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!


This ritual involves the main thing the candidates “get” at the rite of acceptance. It should be done with solemnity.

The given acclamation keeps the focus on Christ and his grace. The most commonly used acclamation is David Haas’ “Christ will be your strength; learn to know and follow him.” I’ve used it, too. I’m not completely convinced it’s the best text, even if it derives directly from the rite. I like having an acclamation sung to Christ in this situation. I’m less enthusiastic about what is essentially a mini-catechesis on what is happening.

Singing the acclamation, no matter what the text may be, is really essential in the rite. The rubric gives a second option for “saying” the acclamation, but I can’t imagine that even the simplest chant isn’t a better option for communities with a poverty of music ministry.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in post-conciliar liturgy documents, RCIA, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to RCIA 54-55: Signing of the Candidates with the Cross

  1. Liam says:

    At St Paul’s, the wonderful chant Lenten Gospel acclamation response setting by Ted Marier is used for this purpose.

  2. Jim McK says:

    Don’t you think these signings justify giving a cross at the rite of welcome, as mentioned earlier? There would need to be some discussion to distinguish the wooden corss from the one received through the signing, but connecting symbols with what they signify is the point of catechesis.

    My parish gives bibles, which I think is better, but a cross seems like a good idea.

  3. Pingback: RCIA 56-57: Signing of the Other Senses & Concluding Prayer « Catholic Sensibility

  4. Yvonne says:

    I am hoping you have a copy of the Liturgy for the Rite of acceptance, If you do will be kindly send me a copy. i would like to dee the format that is used during the Rites.

    Pax et Bonum

  5. Pingback: RCIA 266-268: Signing with the Cross « Catholic Sensibility

  6. Pingback: Rite of Welcoming | Reawakening Faith

  7. Therese says:

    We use the refrain from “Glory in the Cross” by Dan Schutte for the signing. We use “Christ Will be Your Strength” for RCIA dismissal during Mass up until the Rite of Election, then we use “You Are Chosen” refrain by Christopher Walker for the dismissal until the Triduum.

  8. Alicia says:

    God work

  9. JOE C AQUILINA says:

    where can I get a pdf copy of the RCIA from no 1 to the end, without comments?

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