Since we’ve already covered the adult initiation rite (Easter Vigil) in detail, with this post, I thought I’d zero in on a few rubrics, rituals, and texts of note in the rite for initiating children of catechetical age.
The rubric in RCIA 310 commends visibility, possibly at the expense of the form and proper location at (hopefully) an immersion font:
310. After the homily, the celebrant and the children with their godparents or guardians and godparents go to the baptismal font, if this is in view of the faithful; otherwise they gather in the sanctuary, where a vessel of water should be prepared beforehand…
Visibility is a good thing: don’t get me wrong. Baptism is not an everyday ritual, so visibility, especially for the baptized companions of the newcomers, is an important value. And yet, if the choice in a parish were stark: baptize by a fuller sign–immersion in a font or improvise a container in full view, my own sense would be to go with the former. What about your sense?
In RCIA 311, two options are given, plus a reference to the five options of the adult rite, RCIA 222. Option A is the Easter Vigil blessing, reproduced in its entirety without adaptation. Curiously, RCIA 222B is preserved also, but only the first half of the prayer. As I mentioned in my last post, the Litany of Saints is omitted.
It’s hard for me to review these rites of 310 and 311 and conclude this was as well-constructed and edited as the adult rite. The Litany of Saints is a good focal point for children of catechetical age, and its omission is a real curiosity for me, especially given that the blessing of the water, a rather long narrative prayer, is kept in its entirety.
In RCIA 312, the community may, “if this is in keeping with the circumstances,” profess faith either by the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene.
RCIA 313 through 316 turns the focus back to those to be baptized. The children are invited (RCIA 313) first to renounce sin (314). If the children have not been anointed, this will take place after the renunciation (315) and before their question & answer dialogue with the presider (316). The US bishops have determined that “ordinarily, this rite is to be omitted,” which suggests that an earlier anointing, possibly as part of the Lenten penitential rite, should be planned ahead of time and celebrated. I’ll note that the renunciation of sin is done by the children as a group. RCIA 316, however, places a strong preference for children to be questioned individually for their Q&A profession of faith. With typical Roman pragmatism, “if there are a great many children to be baptized,” this preference is abrogated–all the kids together may respond to the questions of faith. If baptism is by immersion, it is hard for me to imagine, even in a very large group of children, that omitting these questions will save much time, especially if the ritual is choreographed well.
Whew! Are you seeing anything of importance I’ve missed? How many of you out there actually have baptized children of catechetical age in keeping with the rite, but separate from the adults at the Easter Vigil?