Sorry for the delay in continuing this series. We left off with the signing of the forehead of the candidates with the cross. Unlike at infant baptism, other senses may be signed. First the rubrics:
56. The signing is carried out by the catechists or the sponsors. (If required by special circumstances, this may be done by assisting priests or deacons.) The signing of each sense may be followed by an acclamation in praise of Christ, for example,”Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here are the texts for signing:
Receive the sign of the cross on your ears,
that you may hear the voice of the Lord.
Receive the sign of the cross on your eyes,
that you may see the glory of God.
Receive the sign of the cross on your lips,
that you may respond to the Word of God.
Receive the sign of the cross over your heart,
that Christ may dwell there by faith.
Receive the sign of the cross on your shoulders,
that you may bear the gentle yoke of Christ.
Receive the sign of the cross on your hands,
that Christ will be known in the work that you do.
Receive the sign of the cross on your feet,
that you may walk in the way of Christ.
Without touching them, the celebrant alone makes the sign of the cross ocer all the candidates at once (or, if they are few, over each individually), saying:
I sign you with the sign of eternal life
in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
And the catechumens respond, “Amen.” After this, the concluding prayer follows.
Let us pray.
by the cross and resurrection of your Son
you have given life to your people.
Your servants have received the sign of the cross:
make them living proof of its saving power
and help them to persevere in the footsteps of Christ.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The signing of the senses is, as an observer or a participant from the pew or music ministry, a ritual highlight of the Rite of Acceptance. In “unpacking,” or reflecting on the experience with catechumens afterward, this is often the one which strikes them strongly. I don’t know how much of an historical innovation this was, but I’m not aware of any significant objection to the optional ritual.
I think I mentioned before my own questioning the use of David Haas’s commonly used acclamation, “Christ will be your strength; learn to know and follow him.” While it does pick up the ritual language of the priest’s text, given the focus on Christ in the prayers and texts of the ritual, it now seems to me to be a little out of place.
What have been your experiences with this ritual?
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