RCIA 477-479: Doctrinal and Spiritual Preparation

img_6803Nobody’s asked the question, but in our look at receiving baptized Catholics, I’m sure somebody has thought, “What about catechesis?” Strictly speaking, this would be less a matter for liturgy and more for the catechetical directory.

Note the twofold preparation here: doctrine and spirituality. How does your parish prepare baptized newcomers spiritually?

Let’s read:

477. The baptized Christian is to receive both doctrinal and spiritual preparation, adapted to individual pastoral requirements, for reception into the full communion of the Catholic church. The candidates should learnto deepen an inner adherence to the Church, where he or she will find the fullness of his or her baptism. During the period of preparation the candidate may share in worship in conformity with the provisions of the Ecumenical Directory.

Anything that would equate candidates for reception with those who are catechumens is to be absolutely avoided.

My wife entered the Church through RCIA, but as one of these candidates. She questions why baptized candidates are segregated from the elect at the Easter Vigil. (We don’t celebrate “full communi0n” at the Vigil; this year we received three candidates the Sunday after.)

After serving in parishes that combined the two groups, I’ve come to accept this strong prescription in RCIA 477 as the better way, especially where combined rites are concerned. My opinion is that we shouldn’t do them, unless there is a significant personal reason.

478. During the period of their doctrinal and spiritual preparation individual candidates for reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church may benefit from the celebration of liturgical rites marking their progress in formation. Thus, for pastoral reasons and in light of the catechesis in the faith which these baptized Christians have received previously, one or several of the rites included in Part II, “4 Preparation of Uncatechized Adults for Confirmation and Eucharist,” may be celebrated as they are presented or in similar words. In all cases, however, discernment should be made regarding the length of catechetical formation required for each individual candidate for reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

With typical Roman practicality, the rite, while cautious, suggests that for the spiritual good of the candidate, there is always the possibility of participation in the rites prior to reception. When would this make sense? A Rite of Welcoming for a person not yet integrated into the parish community. A penitential rite, perhaps, for someone whose entry into the Church coincides with a deeper awareness of sin and a desire for personal contrition. Again, the rite presumes that careful individual judgments will be made by the pastoral leadership. And if rituals are a good idea, priests, liturgists, and RCIA directors should look at any need for adaptation.

One last item, from the 1967 Ecumenical Directory (nos, 19 & 20) already mentioned:

479. One who was born and baptized outside the visible communion of the Catholic Church is not required to make an abjuration of heresy, but simply a profession of faith.


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.

1 Response to RCIA 477-479: Doctrinal and Spiritual Preparation

  1. FrLarry says:

    I don’t like to receive candidates for full communion at the Easter Vigil, although I have done so in the past. The Vigil is full enough without candidates entering full communion. If I recall the USCCB directives for the RCIA in the US, the candidate for full communion is to be consulted on the mode of reception. Therefore, I think putting all the candidates in one liturgical box is not appropriate. Some may want reception at a small Mass during the week because of family sensibilities. In the past, I’ve done reception into full communion during Lent, so that they may participate in the Triduum as Catholics. This, I think, honors their baptism in a more “fit” way. Otherwise, the catechumens begin receiving communion a full week before the already-baptized. I think all should receive communion by the Vigil.

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