RCIA 185-186: Introducing the Preparation Rites

img_6803Sections 185 through 205 give three or four possible preparation rites for Holy Saturday. In this post, we’ll look at the two introductory paragraphs explaining what’s going on and why:

185. In proximate preparation for the celebration of the sacraments of initiation:

1. The elect are to be advised that on Hohly Saturday they should refrain from their usual activities, spend their time in prayer and reflection, and, as far as they can, observe a fast.

2. When it is possible to bring the elect together on Holy Saturday for reflection and prayer, some of all of the following rites may be celebrated as an immediate preparation for the sacraments: the presentation of the Lord’s Prayer, if it has been deferred (see RCIA 149, 178-180), the “return” or recitation of the Creed (193-196), the ephphetha rite (197-199), and the choosing of a baptismal name (200-202).

186. The choice and arrangement of these rites should be guided by what best suits the particular circumstances of the elect, but the following should be observed with regard to their celebration.

1. In cases where the celebration of the presentation of the Creed was not possible, the recitation of the Creed is not celebrated.

2. When both the recitation of the Creed and the ephphetha rite are celebrated, the ephphetha rite immediately precedes the “Prayer before the Recitation” (RCIA 194).


The Paschal fast mentioned in 185.1 is recommended for all the faithful, not just the elect. The reminder to spend time in prayer and reflection is probably not emphasized quite enough either.

Regarding 185.2, it is fairly common in the US for the elect to gather on Holy Saturday for a number of hours in the morning and early afternoon.

As for 186, what “particular circumstances” do you suppose might drive the makeup of the Holy Saturday liturgy? My sense would be to use whatever ritual pointed to a particular difficulty for some or all of the elect in their faith journey. If some element of belief was difficult, then reciting the Creed in a prayerful setting may help to settle the minds and hearts of the newcomers. The ephphetha rite, when done well, is a useful intercessory prayer for people to live out their newfound faith more actively, and relying on God’s grace. Choosing a baptismal name is done infrequently in the States.

186.1 and 186.2 clean up some pragmatic details. In the next five posts this week, we’ll look at liturgical considerations, turn our attention to each of the three preparation rites, then look at the liturgical conclusion. Next week: Easter Vigil.

Meanwhile, any input?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, 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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