Unleash the Gospel and the RCIA
There's an old story about a man who is watching his wife make pot roast for dinner. As he’s watching, his wife prepares the meat and then just before she puts it into the pot for roasting, she cuts off both ends of the meat. The husband has never noticed this before so he asks, “Why do you cut off the ends of the meat before you put it in the roasting pan?”
She thinks about it and replies, “Because that’s the way my mother did it.”
Still confused, he asks the logical question, “But why did she cut off the ends?” Now both the wife and husband are very curious as to why, so they call Mom and ask her about cutting off the ends prior to putting the roast into the pan. Her answer is, “Because that’s the way Nana did it.” Realizing that they are not going to get any farther with Mom, they decide to go directly to the source, so they call Nana. “Nana,” the wife asks, “why is it that when you make pot roast, you cut off the ends of the meat before you put it in the roasting pan?” Nana answers without hesitation, “Because that’s the only way it will fit in my pot.”
As I continue to study Archbishop Vigneron’s Pastoral Letter, I remember some of the sharing from past presentations of the RCIA topics and phone conversations over the years. What I have heard is: “But we have always done it that way”.
In the Pastoral Letter we are all being called to examine every circumstance when we are saying…we have always done it that way… and we are urged to: “be bold and creative in the task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in our community”.
- We have always started the program around October and had all the catechumens and candidates ready by the Easter Vigil
- We have always kept catechumens and candidates together
- We have always had classes on Topics
Allow me to share some thoughts I am having as I examine this challenge that the letter proposes to all of us who are responsible for the catechumenal process in the Archdiocese of Detroit:
What is the goal of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults?
How does the rite make disciples?
- It is no more or less than to make disciples.
What do we mean by "kerygma"?
- The rite tells us:
- To preach the Gospel
- To teach the "kerygma"
- To encourage the community to walk with the candidates as they come to know who Jesus is, come to believe his message and begin to follow his call to change ... conversion
- To take the candidates with us as we minister to the needs of the community
Msgr. Charles Pope has written a very interesting and challenging definition of the word “kerygma”. He writes:
That we are lost in our sins, that those deep drives are destroying us, and that God has sent the Savior, Jesus Christ, who died to set us free and offer us whole new life. It is he who calls to you now, who is drawing you to himself, that he might save you and give to you a whole new life. He died to give you this life, and having been raised from the dead, he ascended to the Father, where he is drawing you to himself even now, calling you by name, and offering you deliverance from every sinful and destructive drive, establishing you in a new, more glorious, and hopeful life. Come to him now, the repent of your sins, and let him begin the good work in you.
This is the basic "Kerygma". It is the starting point, the initial proclamation, the summons, the invitation: the conviction of sins, but the announcement of loving hope. Read the full blog here…it is very interesting.
The RCIA process proposes that we spend our time with catechumens doing this and leave the study of the deeper doctrines to a later time….but the initial proclamation should stick to basics.
STRUCTURES AND METHODS:
What kind of structures are in place to accomplish the goal? What kind of methods do parishes use?
Pope John Paul II in On Catechesis in Our Time, #5 said:
- Most parishes have at least one person or a team of persons responsible for the RCIA process.
- Many of the coordinators and some team members have been certified for the RCIA process
- Most parishes begin their process in October and end by the Easter Vigil of the next year
- There are only a handful of parishes that provide Mystagogy after initiation at the Easter Vigil
- Some parishes have moved to a year-round process welcoming persons into the process whenever they come knocking on the door
- Other parishes tell those who come knocking after the process has started to come back in October when it will begin again
- Some parishes will provide catch up sessions to bring those asking up to date with what the rest of the group has been exposed to…shortening the time for the Catechumenate
- Most parishes keep catechumens and candidates together as a class
- A few parishes will bring candidates into full communion with the Catholic Church when they are ready and not have them wait until the Easter Vigil
- Most Parishes use the bulletin to advertise RCIA classes
- Some parishes are beginning to use social media to get a message out about the classes
- Most parishes create a series of topics for the classes…this way the catechumens and the candidates can be taught at the same time
- Classes are held in classrooms, meeting rooms, etc. at the parish
- Many, but not all, parishes dismiss catechumens from the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist
- Some parishes schedule regular interviews with the catechumens; other parishes limit the interviews to the beginning of the process and before the Rite of Election
- The Tribunal is very helpful
“The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch, but also in communion and intimacy, with Jesus Christ. We are not merely dispensers of knowledge. We are agents of conversion. We are healers.”
“The mystery as to how to cause conversion is a mystery of love, not a mystery of technique.”
In paragraphs # 4 and 5 the RCIA lays out for us six keys to accomplish to goal of making disciples:
As I continue reflecting there are questions that continue surfacing, namely:
- The initiation of catechumens is a gradual process
- that takes place within the community of the faithful
- By joining the catechumens in reflecting on the value of the Paschal mystery
- and by renewing their own conversion, the faithful provide an example that will help the catechumens to obey the Holy Spirit more generously
- The rite of initiation is suited to a spiritual journey of adults
- that varies according to the many forms of God's grace, the free cooperation of the individuals, the action of the Church and cricumstances of time and place.
Would we be more faithful to the process described in the RCIA
if real Adult Formation in the faith was present in every parish?
What would happen if we concentrated on CONVERSION during the Catechumenate and saved the deeper doctrine until after initiation?
What question comes to mind when you reflect on the Pastoral Letter and the RCIA process in your parish? I would love to hear from you so that the reflection on Unleash the Gospel and the RCIA can continue. Click here to share your reflection.
RCIA Topics Schedule
The following is the schedule for the RCIA Topics every other Saturday from September 9th till November 4th. All topics will be held at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. It will be important to register early for these presentations. I really do not want to cancel them again because of lack of registration. Click here for the full schedule and here to register.
News from the Vatican
A New Way to Become a Saint
On July 11th Pope Francis issued a Motu Proprio titled “Maiorem Hac Dilectionem”…”On the Offer of Life” creating a new category, distinct from martyrdom, under which a person may be declared Blessed. This category honors “…those Christians who, following more closely the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, voluntarily and freely offer their lives for others and they persevered until death in this regard…” Read the full motu proprio here.
Reformed Churches Sign the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification
On July 5th 2017, at Wittenberg in Germany, the place where in 1517 the Reformation began when Luther presented his ninety-five theses against Indulgences, the World Communion of Reformed Churches joined the ecumenical consensus already achieved between Catholics, Lutheran, and Methodists on the doctrine of justification. This is another small and important step in the journey towards the full visible unity of Christians that Popes for decades have been working towards. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Chapter 3, Article 2, #1 for a definition of justification.)
Eucharist is the summit and the source of all Christian worship and life, signifying and effecting the unity of the People of God. Until full visible communion is achieved those Christians who are not in full communion may not ordinarily receive Holy Communion at the celebration of the Eucharist.
News from the USCCB
Revised Guidelines for the Celebration of Sacraments for Persons with Disabilities
At their Spring Meeting this year the Bishops of the U.S. gave approval to this revised set of guidelines addressing the needs of persons with disabilities. In the introduction they reiterate the principle contained in the original document, namely:
“It is essential that all forms of the liturgy be completely accessible to
persons with disabilities, since these forms are the essence of the spiritual tie that binds the Christian community together.
To exclude members of the parish from these celebrations of the life of the Church, even by passive omission, is to deny the
reality of that community. Accessibility involves far more than physical alterations to parish buildings. Realistic provision must be made for Catholics with disabilities to participate fully in the Eucharist and other liturgical celebrations.” Read the full document here.
Immigration and Refugees in the Land of the Free
Attached is the full text of the Pastoral Reflection Living as a People of God in Unsettled Times that the USCCB has issued to encourage all the faithful to do what we can to accompany migrants and refugees who seek a better life in the United States. Given these unsettled times when young people who have lived almost all their lives in the U.S and adult family members are being threatened with deportation the bishops urge all the faithful to seek out, to listen and to really hear the stories of these our brothers and sisters.
For Pastors and Worship Commissions
Q&A on Bread and Wine for Communion
Recently, the Vatican sent out a circular letter to all bishops re-iterating the instruction of 2003 about the bread and wine that may be used for the celebration of the Eucharist. Many with Celiac disease have been urging that gluten free hosts be made available. These hosts have been advertised on the web and grocery stores but they are not valid matter for Holy Communion. Attached is a series of Q &A that address this issue.
Please note the following are some directions when caring for persons with celiac sprue disease at the celebration of the Eucharist:
Suggestions for Reception of Low Gluten Host at the Celebration of the Eucharist:
- The person must be Catholic.
- The person must approach the pastor and make known to him the medical condition.
- The person should first be advised and encouraged to receive only the Precious Blood at Communion time. However, care should be taken that there has not been any mixing of the sacred species at the altar or the communion station.
- If the person has a spiritual need to receive the host, the parish is responsible to provide low-gluten hosts. This is to ensure that proper low-gluten bread is used for Eucharist.
- It is the right of the faithful under the law (Canon 843) to receive Holy Communion, even if only the Precious Blood, and regardless of whether the Precious Blood is offered to the rest of the faithful present at a given celebration of Mass.
- The pastor writes to the Archbsihop for permission for the use of low-gluten host for the person.
The Use of Saints and Blesseds in the Litany of Saints
- The person makes his/her presence known to the priest before the celebration begins.
- A pyx is prepared with the low gluten host by the priest.
- The person is encouraged to sit in a particular place, preferably toward the front of the worship space, and come for communion at the beginning of the procession. Ushers can help in this regard.
- The pastor may consecrate the low-gluten host in a pyx separate from the other hosts consecrated at that celebration.
- At communion time a minister of the Precious Blood is given the pyx (not the cup) and the person comes forward to receive the Eucharist.
- An altar server is given a cup of the Precious Blood and follows the minister with the pyx
- After the person has received the Eucharistic bread, the altar server takes the pyx from the minister, gives the minister the cup and places the pyx on the altar to be purified
- The person may then receive the precious blood. It is probably best if the person is the first to receive from the cup.
According to the Ordo Cantus Missae (the Order of Chants), saints and blessed whose names appear in the Church’s Martyrology may be added “at the proper place (suis locis) in the Litany of the Saints.”
Saints and blessed may be added because of their significance to a local Church. Patron saints of a significant group of the faithful or religious community may also be added.
The act of beatification provides the faithful the opportunity to offer public veneration to a blessed. In the case of Venerable Solanus Casey, it will be appropriate to add his name to the Litany of the Saints after he has been beatified but not before November 18th, 2017.
The inclusion of others in the Litany of the Saints who are not found in the Church’s Martyrology: i.e. Origen, Dorothy Day, is not appropriate.
Beatification of Fr. Solanus Casey
The Beatification Mass for Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey is scheduled for Saturday, November 18th, 2017 at 4 pm. It will be a Vigil Mass and will fulfill the Sunday obligation. All participants will need a ticket. You will receive more information and direction about the process for parishes to order and distribute tickets.
Resources Available at the Print Shop
Just a reminder! There are many worship resources that are available at the Archdiocesan Print Shop to help you in your ministry at the parish. Here is the list.
||Transfiguration of the Lord
||St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order of Preachers
||St. Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Co-Patroness of Europe.
She was killed at the Nazi concenration camp at Auschwitz
||St. Maximilian Kolbe offered his life in exchange for the father of a family and was martyred at Auschwitz
||Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
||Holy Day of Obligation
||St. Pius X, Pope of the Eucharist
||He began the liturgical reforms especially by lowering the age of first communion of children and calling for frequent communion of adults
||Queenship of Mary
||St. Rose of Lima, first canonized saint of the New World
||St. Bartholomew, Apostle
||St. Augustine, patron of brewers, printers, theologians, and sore eyes
||He was baptized at age 33 after his mother, St. Monica, had prayed for years for his conversion
Resources for New Evangelization
Archbishop Byrnes: What is the New Evangelization
Parishes around the Archdiocese are offering workshops and other experiences for adults who are interested in growing their faith. These are advertised in Parish Mail. You may request to be placed on the list of those receiving the news at aod.org/parishmail.