The rite’s emphasis on celebrations of the word seems to presume a gradual introduction to the Sunday Eucharist. In the US, most inquirers have some experience of the Mass before setting foot inside the door for their first precatechumenate meeting. Keep in mind that for many places in the world, Sunday Mass may not be the weekly experience we enjoy here in much of North America and Europe. Given all that, let’s look at RCIA 83:
83. From the very beginning of the peiod of the catechumenate the catechumens should be taught to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
1. Care should be taken that some of the special celebrations of the word just mentioned (RCIA 82) are held on Sunday, so that the catechumens will become accustomed to taking an active and practiced part in these celebrations.
2. Gradually the catechumens should be admitted to the first part of the celebration of the Sunday Mass. After the liturgy if the word they should, if possible, be dismissed, but an intention for them is included in the general intercessions (see RCIA 67 for formularies of dismissal).
Of course, not all newcomers come to Mass first, and then are inserted into the life of the catechumenate. In non-Christian cultures, I can see the importance of easing non-believers into liturgy. It wouldn’t be helpful for the Mass to be seen as more of a spectacle. From the beginning, as the rite instructs us, the importance of Sunday and Mass should be stressed.
In the next section, we are advised to consider framing teaching sessions in the context of prayer.
84. Celebrations of the word may also be held in connection with catechetical or instructional meetings of the catechumens, so that these will occur in a context of prayer.