Let’s finish up the Rite of Acceptance, shall we? In the ancient Church, the “Liturgy of the Catechumens,” (everything at Mass up to, but not including the offertory) ended here and only fully initiated Christians remained for the Eucharistic mysteries. Dismissing catechumens is not strictly required. But unbeknownst to many parish ministers and priests, dismissing Christian candidates for full Communion really shouldn’t be done. In fact, it’s not even called for in the rite.
The end of the Rite of Acceptance has four options:
67. If the eucharist is to be celebrated, the catechumens are normally dismissed at this point by use of option A or B; if the catechumens are to stay for the celebration of the eucharist , option C is used; if the eucharist is not to be celebrated, the entire assembly is dismissed by use of option D.
The celebrant recalls briefly the great joy with which the catechumens have just been received and urges them to live according to the word of God they have just heard. After the dismissal formulary the group of catechumens goes out but does not disperse. With the help of some of the faithful, the catechumens remain together to share the joy and spiritual experiences. For the dismissal the following or similar words are used.
Catechumens, go in peace, and may the Lord remain with you always.
This option assumes the priest is prepared to recount the rites and readings and possibly the back story of the newcomers. Buried in with option A is the Church’s reasoning for dismissing the catechumens. In other words, catechumens aren’t dismissed just because we’re copying John Chrysostom or Theodore of Mopsuestia. Notice the emphasis: “share the joy and spiritual experiences.” Many parish es refer to “dismissal catechesis,” and while I would not quibble that catechesis indeed happens, the rite suggests instead an integration of the affective dimension and the spiritual life.
Most parishes choose this option:
As an optional formulary for dismissing the catechumens, the celebrant may use these or similar words.
My dear friends, this community now sends you forth to reflect more deeply upon the word of God which you have shared with us today. Be assured of our loving support and prayers for you. We look forward to the day when you will share fully in the Lord’s Table.
If for serious reasons the catechumens cannot leave (see RCIA no. 75.3) and must remain with the baptized, they are to be instructed that though they are present at the eucharist, they cannot take part in it as the baptized do. They may be reminded of this by the celebrant in these or similar words.
It might be that the Rite of Acceptance is not celebrated as a Mass.
The celebrant dismisses those present, using these or similar words.
Go in peace, and may the Lord remain with you always.
An appropriate song may conclude the celebration.
It’s interesting that for one of the few times in the Catholic liturgy, an explicit option for a concluding song is given.
68. When the eucharist is to follow, intercessory prayer is resumed with the usual general intercessions for the needs of the Church and the whole world; then, if required, the profession of faith is said. But for pastoral reasons these general intercessions and the profession of faith may be omitted. The liturgy of the eucharist then begins as usual with the preparation of the gifts.
And a curiosity that the prayers of the faithful and creed would be switched in order.
Over the years, dismissal has become more frequent in parishes. Thirty, even twenty years ago, one would not see dismissal in some of the good parishes.
Any comments about your experiences with dismissal, either as a catechumen, catechist, or member of the assembly?