Let’s tackle in one gulp the entire suggested outline for a celebration of the Word:
85. For the celebrations of the word of God that are held specifically for the benefit of the catechumens (see RCIA 82), the following structure (RCIA 86-89) may be used as a model.
86. SONG: An appropriate song may be sung to open the celebration.
87. READINGS AND RESPONSORIAL PSALMS: One or more readings from Scripture, chosen for their relevance to the formation of the catechumens, are proclaimed by a baptized member of the community. A sung responsorial psalm should ordinarily follow each reading.
88. HOMILY: A brief homily that explains and applies the readings should be given.
89. CONCLUDING RITES: The celebration of the word may conclude with a minor exorcism (RCIA 94) or with a blessing of the catechumens (RCIA 97). When the minor exorcism is used, it may be followed by one of the blessings (RCIA 97) or, on occasion, by the rite of anointing (RCIA 102-103). *
The structure is quite simple, but a few things strike me as worthy of comment.
Music: Note the importance of the sung responsorial psalm (an ordinary expectation) above the option of an opening song. Singing a psalm stresses the principle of singing the liturgy as opposed to singing at the liturgy.
Readings: It’s a curious thing that in the other rites we’ve examined, readings are suggested, and even attached to certain themes. Not so for these celebrations of the Word. The clergy and RCIA team are clearly expected to know how to select Bible (not necessarily Lectionary) readings “relevant” to the formational experience of the newcomers.
Homily: Even in the absence of the clergy, a lay person may give a homily in these celebrations. Note the explicit focus: the homily is based on the reading(s), and one might presume, the psalm(s).
Concluding Rites: Over the next sixteen sections, we’ll examine the possibilities of minor exorcisms, blessings, and anointings.
The starred note indicates that #89 may also be utilized for liturgies of the word that take place along with instructional sessions or the breaking open of the word after Sunday Mass may also employ these minor rites.
Does your parish catechumenate offer these celebrations of the Word? Are parishioners invited to participate? Were these included in your experience of the catechumenate?