Good catechumenate directors know “RCIA 75” and can quote it. With this post we begin an examination of numbers 75-80, a chapter entitled “Period of the Catechumenate.” This is the manual guiding parishes on the task of how to conduct RCIA in a parish. It’s the basis for effective and fruitful catechumenate ministry. We’ll take #75 spread out over the next five posts in this series.
75. The catechumenate is an extended period during which the candidates are given suitable pastoral formation and guidance, aimed at training them in the Christian life. (Ad Gentes 14) In this way, the dispositions manifested at their acceptance into the catechumenate are brought to maturity. This is achieved in four ways.
How long is an extended period? Many parishes, though not as many as twenty or thirty years ago, align this period within a secular academic year, concluding at Easter. We will see that in the rite, the period of catechumenate ends at the beginning of Lent. When might that period begin? Let’s consider the other qualities of the catechumenate period before we draw a conclusion not from expediency and parish expectations.
Note the holistic approach of the catechumenate period. It is intended as far more than a “class.” The training is not in doctrine alone, but in the whole “Christian life.” How long does it take someone to learn the facts of Christianity? Probably not as long as it takes for a whole way of life to take root.
Looking back, we see that the “dispositions” of the candidates at the Rite of Acceptance are, or should be the same, as those that will carry these individuals into the expression of their Christian lives. In other words, there should be a building on what has gone before.
We will carefully examine those “four ways” over the next few days. They include a “suitable catechesis,” a “familiarity with the Christian way of life” with the support of the Christian community, liturgy, and an active apostolic life