RCIA 61-64: Liturgy of the Word


Did you know that there are assigned Lectionary readings for the Rite of Acceptance? They are not used too often, but liturgical tradition would seem to indicate they could be used when the Rite of Acceptance takes place on a weekday, or on Sundays outside of the major seasons, or on a non-solemnity. Let’s look at the rubrics for it:

61. After the catechumens have reached their places, the celebrant speaks to them briefly, helping them to understand the dignity of God’s word, which is proclaimed and heard in the church.

The Lectionary for Mass or the Bible is carried in procession and placed with honor on the lectern, where it may be incensed.

The celebration of the liturgy of the word follows.

How would you interpret these rubrics? The given order is explicit: first the catechumens are seated, then the priest gives a brief instruction, then Lectionary or Bible (but not the Book of Gospels) is brought into place. Incense optional.

My sense is that given the option to use a Bible, the important aspect of this opening ritual for the Liturgy of the Word is that catechumens are to be impressed upon that the Word in its totality is to be reverenced. Certainly, they are experiencing the spiritual aspect of divine revelation through God’s grace in their lives. My interpretation is that the procession with the Lectionary or Bible is not optional. In my parish, we always process the Gospel Book and enthrone it on the altar at the start of Mass. I would see this ritual as taking place at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word, not the beginning of Mass. And if the Rite of Acceptance didn’t include the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I would opt for one procession, the Lectionary.

62. The readings may be chosen from any of the readings in the Lectionary for Mass that are suited to the new catechumens or the following may be used.

First Reading Genesis 12:1-4a

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 33:4-5, 12-13, 18-19, 20 and 22

Verse before the Gospel John 1:41, 17b

Gospel John 1:35-42

63. A homily follows that explains the readings.

It’s perhaps unusual a rite as important as the Rite of Acceptance would not have three readings. Note that the rite gives the option to search through the entire Lectionary for something “suited” to the new catechumens. The possibilities from the Gospels are numerous: the call of the apostles, the beatitudes, Jesus’ reply to “Blessed are the breasts and womb,” the greatest commandment, perhaps.

Psalm 33 is one of the underappreciated psalms in the Lectionary. Outside of the nine ordinary time common psalms, it is perhaps the most frequently used, and it pops up a few times in the Sunday Lectionary, and even at the occasional wedding.

Another optional ritual:

64. A book containing the gospels may be given to the catechumens by the celebrant; a cross may also be given, unless this has already been done as one of the additional rites (see RCIA 74). The celebrant may use words suited to the gift presented, for example, “Receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” and the catechumens may respond in an appropriate way.

Does it make sense to wait for the conclusion of the celebration of the Word to give a Bible? Given the verbiage coming up in the intercessions, prayer, and dismissal, my suggestion would be to have the catechumens come forward (or remain in their seats) and present the Bibles silently and with reverence.

Other thoughts or comments?

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.

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