Let’s wrap up mystagogy:
249. To close the period of postbaptismal catechesis, some sort of celebration should be held at the end of the Easter season near Pentecost Sunday; festivities in keeping with local custom may accompany the occasion.
250. On the anniversary of their baptism the neophytes should be brought together in order to give thanks to God, to share with one another their spiritual experiences, and to renew their commitment.
251. To show his pastoral concern for these new members of the Church, the bishop, particularly if he was unable to preside at the sacraments of initiation himself, should arrange, if possible, to meet the recently baptized at least once in the year and to preside at a celebration of the eucharist with them. At this Mass they may receive holy communion under both forms.
Sometimes these observances are more or less combined on the parish level. Let break them down carefully and ponder the possibilities for both parish and diocese.
Regarding #249, the celebration of closure for the sacramental process takes place. The rite doesn’t mention this being a Mass, but it might be. Before the observance of the Ascension was moved to Sunday in much of the US, I thought that holy day was an ideal setting for such a celebration. The Gospel gives the Great Commission, and the midweek holy day might turn into a real festivity with a meal, and parish activities to complement the celebration of the Eucharist.
I’ve always read #250 as referring to a first baptismal anniversary, but an annual event would seem to be a better option. A parish anniversary for adult initiates might take place during the week of Easter, observing the liturgical anniversary, if not an exact calendar one. That said, how many Catholics are aware of their own baptismal anniversary? Are these dates a time for us to give thanks, to share spiritual experiences, and to renew baptismal promises? Do Catholic parents rfecognize and support this for their children?
Many dioceses celebrate a Mass for neophytes. The rite doesn’t link this either to the observance in #249 or to the Easter season. My opinion is that these should be separate events. Parishes should celebrate a Mass for neophytes and annual anniversaries for the adult baptized. The event with the bishop should be a third observance. Separating the observances intensifies and fleshes out the experience of mystagogy.
With this post, we’ve come to the end of RCIA part I, Christian Initiation of Adults. When we pick up with RCIA 252, we’ll begin part II, “Rites for Particular Circumstances,” those dealing with children, emergency situations, uncatechized Catholics, and Christians from other faith communities.