All of the rituals of the past eight sections (RCIA 50-57) are presumed to take place outside the church proper (or inside the entrance or “elsewhere”) as RCIA 48 directs. Many parish adapt this somewhat, holding part of the liturgy outside the nave, the signing of the senses in the nave, and break for a procession somewhere in between. What is the best practice? What does your parish do for infants?
RCIA 58 & 59 provide for options “at the discretion of the diocesan bishop,” the giving of a new name (RCIA 73) and/or “additional rites signifying the reception into the community, for example the presentation of a cross (RCIA 74) or some other symbolic act.” We’ll take a closer look at these options when we get to the RCIA 70’s. I’ve seen the presentation of a cross incorporated into the signing of the senses. It’s pragmatic. It links Christ, the community, and the ritual action.
RCIA 60 is titled “Invitation to the Celebration of the Word of God.” First, a brief rubric:
60. The celebrant next invites the catechumens and their sponsors to enter the church (or the place where the liturgy of the word will be celebrated). He uses the following or similar words, accompanying them with some gesture of invitation.
N, and N, come into the church, to share with us at the table of God’s word.
During the entry an appropriate song is sung or the following antiphon with Psalm 34:2,3,6,9,10,11,16.
Come, my children, and listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Outdoor liturgy can be awkward, and not every church property is built to handle outdoor rituals. I can understand why decisions are made to keep most or all of the rite of acceptance indoors. I don’t feel inclined to criticize this too harshly. However, were I planning with a pastor and catechumenate director, I would try to surface the option frequently and keep it in mind as an ideal to be explored.
Note that by the end of the signing of the senses, the candidates have now become catechumens. They are referenced as “candidates” at the end of the signing of the senses, and as “catechumens” from this moment until the Rite of Election.
I can’t let a musical instruction escape without a few thoughts. Note that the “appropriate song” is the first choice, and the setting of Psalm 34 the second. You may notice that Psalm 34 is often used in the Lectionary in connection with the Eucharist. It is also one of nine common psalms for ordinary time. Here are the verses suggested:
I will bless the Lord at all times; praise shall be always in my mouth.
My soul will glory in the Lord that the poor may hear and be glad.
Look to God that you may be radiant with joy and your faces may not blush for shame.
Learn to savor how good the Lord is; happy are those who take refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you holy ones; nothing is lacking to those who fear him.
The powerful grow poor and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
The Lord has eyes for the just and ears for their cry.
What would the text of that “appropriate song” look like? These verses provide a clue, as do the texts of the rite itself. I would look for a focus on the agency of God, of grace, of the notion of praise of God.
I can’t escape the observation that like David Haas’ signing acclamation, these texts are preachy texts. By this I mean that God is referred to not in the first person (“voice of God”) or in the second person (a direct address of God as we read in most any prayer text) but in the third person. In the Scriptures, this is a wisdom figure communicating with a disciple just how to approach God. In a way, Psalm 34 and the suggested verses involve the assembly singing to the newcomers, “This is what I do, you should follow my example.”
Any other comments here?