Unleash the Gospel and the RCIA
As we celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls this November it would be good to remember that God is calling all of us, his sons and daughters, to be saints so that we can join him in everlasting joy. Archbishop Vigneron makes this very clear in his Pastoral Letter Unleash the Gospel when he says:
To follow Jesus is to be in a constant process of growth, like the seed that fell on rich soil. We seek to be more like Jesus, to treat others as he did, to pray as he prayed, to love as he loved, and to honor God in every area of our lives, including marriage, family life, finances, work and leisure activities. Growing as his disciple demands a daily surrender to the one who loved us and gave his life for us: “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
This is the goal that Archbishop Vigneron proposes for all the faithful of the Archdiocese. It is also the goal of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
I have been receiving many calls over the past weeks from parish RCIA directors. Many of them are brand new to this ministry. Their concerns are about what books and other resources they need. In their minds they want to teach those asking to become Catholic the same way that they were taught….using a school model consisting of a list of topics to be presented by catechists, deacons, priests, and/or invited guests.
But how do you lead these seekers to follow Jesus as his disciple, which is the goal of the RCIA, using this kind of classroom model. You may fill their heads with a lot of information but how does this information bring about the conversion that is necessary before they may be initiated into the Catholic Church. No book will teach them to be more like Jesus. No Topic will teach them to be more like Jesus. They need to come to know Jesus through reflection on the Scripture. They need to encounter Jesus every week in the Gospels they hear on Sunday. Each Sunday they need to ask themselves: What is Jesus saying to me today? What part of my life is he asking me to change so that every day I am becoming more like him? Can I do it…change? Will I change? What will it cost me if I change? Am I willing to make the change?
We also learn to be more like Jesus by encountering his presence in other members of the community. The seekers need members of the community to share with them what it takes to be Catholic. In this time of crisis in the Church why do they remain Catholic?
They need to have the experience of encountering the presence of Christ in those who are sick…who are suffering…yet remain full of faith. These sick persons are part of the community and the community ministers to them by visiting them, praying with them, bringing the Eucharist to them. The seekers need to be there with the members of the community and reflect on the faith of the sick person after the visit.
They need to have the experience of accompanying members of the community who go out to feed the poor, to minister to the homeless, to pray together with other members of the community, enjoy the company of members of the community at festivals, euchre, etc. And after the experience seekers need to learn to reflect on the faith of the community members they accompanied and those they met. The RCIA tells us: “… the initiation of adults is the responsibility of all the baptized…” (RCIA # 9)
When I share these thoughts I can hear you asking: “When and how will they learn the doctrines of the Church?” The doctrines of the church are in the gospels. They will learn what it means to be a disciple from reflection on the words of Jesus and conversation they have with other seekers, with members of the RCIA Team, from deacons and priests of the parish who have regular meetings with them. What the RCIA coordinator and RCIA Team need to do is treat each seeker as an individual. Give each individual the time he or she needs to uncover the change that is necessary and commit to begin the journey of conversion, and be there when they succeed and when they fail with the words that Jesus would say….
The other thing that RCIA Teams and parishes need to remember is that initiation is only the beginning of the conversion journey. After initiation the journey continues….there is continuing formation for the newly initiated with other community members. They now experience other parts of the community’s sacramental life…Reconciliation when they have not been faithful, Anointing when they become ill, Eucharist every Sunday where they come to experience the real presence of Christ in the celebration, in the community gathered, in the priest who leads the celebration, and in the body and blood of Christ which they receive and which makes them part of the Body of Christ and sends them to be Christ’s presence in their everyday life so that Christ will welcome them as his saints when he calls them to eternal joy.
The following is the schedule for the Rite of Election in 2019:
The RCIA Topics will be offered on Saturdays once or twice a month beginning in November 2018. The full schedule and registration information is attached. Because we need to prepare handouts for each of the participants we are asking that you register as soon as possible. All RCIA Team members and/or prospective team members are invited to join us to be prepared to share your gifts of helping catechumens and candidates journey toward full initiation in the Church.
News from the USCCB
Consultation on the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults
The Committee on Divine Worship has begun the preparation of a new English edition of the RCIA. The title has been changed to Order of Christian Initiation of Adults to better reflect that the book contains many rites which are celebrated as a person journeys toward full initiation. As each of the former sacramental books of rites are revised we notice that each of them has been renamed an Order.
In preparation for this revision The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate conducted a survey that looked at how the statutes were being implemented. Another consultation was done by the FDLC that contained suggestions for improving the National Statutes. The National Statutes, which appear as Appendix III at the very end of the RCIA book, are the laws that govern the way the RCIA is to be done in the United States.
With the results of these consultations the Secretariat of Divine Worship would like to hear from you about your experiences with the process of the RCIA and in particular with the ritual book and the National Statutes:
In your reply, please tell us a little bit about yourself:
- What have you found helpful and effective?
- What difficulties have you encountered?
- What changes would you recommend?
- Do you have other feedback concerning the RCIA (book and/or process)?
You might want to comment on the following:
- How have you been involved in RCIA ministry?
- In what capacity and for how long?
- Have you gone through the RCIA process yourself?
- What was you experience like?
Through December 31, 2018, responses can be e-mailed to RCIA@usccb.org or sent by regular mail to: USCCB – Divine Worship, 3211 Fourth Street, NE, Washington, DC @0017, ATTN: RCIA Consultation.
- Placement of the National Statutes. At present they are in the back of the book and priests and RCIA directors often have never consulted them
- Do the combined rites in the back of the book make clear the difference between the baptized candidates and those who are unbaptized?
- Is more clarification needed about the process for initiating children?
- Is the outline for the Easter Vigil clear?
Obtaining Low Gluten Hosts
In the dioceses of the United States, there are four approved distributors of low-gluten hosts and two of mustum known to the Secretariat of Divine Worship. (Any additional low-gluten host and/or mustum distributors are strongly encouraged to contact the Secretariat so that an up-to-date listing may be maintained.) Click here for information.
The FDLC has published a new resource in Spanish and English, Nuestro Sacrificio De Alabanza: Una Colección de recursos para la formación litúrgica / Our Sacrifice of Praise: A Collection of Resources for Liturgical Formation. It contains Bulletin Inserts, Homily Helps, Adult Education Sessions, etc. and gives the purchaser permission to make copies of everything for use in the parish. Please visit the website for more information and to place an order.
News from the Vatican
Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment
The Synod on Young People is over and it has been a different kind of Synod. In addition to the 300 cardinals, bishops, priests religious and lay experts Pope Francis has included young people as part of the Synod members. Each time the voting members of the Synod met, young people were present and had opportunities to ask questions and make presentations of their thoughts, their needs, and their vision for the Church. There were times during the Synod when at the breaks Pope Francis would go back to the young people and tell them to make noise….let the other members know that you agree with what they are saying…
On October 6 Pope Francis invited hundreds of young people from all over the world to join the synod participants for an evening of music and of young people talking about the search for their identity, hopes for their relationships and ideas for living a life of service and self-giving.
What emerged from the month long Synod is a vision for the Church of the future. Young people made it very clear that they want the church to listen to them…they want fathers not Pharisees…they want elders to accompany them, to share the wisdom of age with them, and by their example and willingness to be with them and lead them to Christ.
When the final document adopted by the Synod of Bishops is approved by the pope and becomes public it will be part of the teaching of the Pope himself. Attached is a Letter from the Synod Fathers to Young People.
For Pastors and Worship Commissions
Faculty for a priest/pastor to confirm
We often receive questions about when a priest may confirm. Attached here are the faculties that may be exercised within the territorial limits of the Province of Detroit as applicable.
Q & A
1. This year December 8 falls on a Saturday. Does attendance at the 4:00 p.m. Mass on December 8, the holy day of obligation, fulfill the Sunday obligation?
December 8, 2018 is a Holy Day of Obligation.Parishes should schedule Masses so that the faithful may fulfill their obligation.Therefore, a parish may schedule an anticipatory Mass for the Feast on Friday December 7th after 4 PM and Masses on Saturday Morning (for example 8, 10 and 12 noon)
Weddings which may take place on Saturday (for example at noon or 2 pm) the following rubric is in order:
The Ritual Mass for Matrimony may not be used…the Mass prayers and readings of the day must be used without change.
For Masses celebrated after 4 PM on Saturday December 8, the readings of the Second Sunday Advent must be used.In order to fulfill both obligations of Sunday and the feast a person must attend two separate liturgies (one on Friday or Saturday AM and one on Saturday PM or Sunday AM) Answered by Msgr. Kasza.
2. Is it proper for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to purify the Sacred Vessels?
Purification of the Sacred Vessels is the responsibility of the priest and/or deacon.Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion may not assist in the purification of sacred vessels. EMHC’s may consume any precious blood which remains in the cup after distribution of Holy Communion is over.Then they must place the cup on the altar or the credence table (covered with the purificator).
When EMHC’S who have distributed the precious body of Christ have completed their ministry they place the paten on the altar.They do not remove any of the precious body from the paten.That is the ministry of the priest and/or deacon.
The priest and/or the deacon purify the vessels at the altar before the silence after communion or at the credence table after people have left the church.This was clarified by Cardinal Arinze after he had consulted with Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in 2006.
3. What does the Church require for the baptism of an adopted child?
The Archdiocesan policy is:
Any certificate you issue for this person will not make mention of the fact of the adoption.
- The baptism should occur after the adoption is completed
- The parents should present the parish with a copy of the adoption papers
- After the adoption is completed the adopted parents have all of the rights and responsibilities of natural parents
- Baptism may be scheduled as soon as the adoption is complete
- When recording the baptism the following information should be recorded:
- Name of the adopted child
- Names of the adoptive parents
- Date and place of birth
- Place and date of baptism
- Name of the minister of baptism
- Do not record the names of the birth parents. In the notation section write “adopted”.
4. Who signs the Marriage license after the Wedding Mass?
#78 of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony within Mass states:
When the Mass is concluded, the witnesses and Priest sign the Marriage record.This the record for the Church.
The priest also signs the Marriage license as the presider at the celebration of marriage.
5. May a son or daughter be the sponsor for a parent who is a catechumen?
Canon law does not specifically speak on this question, however, we can reason an answer from what Canon law does provide. Canon law does not envision a child being the sponsor of a parent. In adult situations the sponsor is to assist the catechumen in Christian initiation. It is a mentorship. It is hard to imagine a child mentoring a parent.
Also, one of the reasons for parents not serving as sponsors for their children is because of a biblical/spiritual relationship that already exists between parent and child – parents are the primary educators of their children. There is already a responsibility that exists between the parent and child. In the same way there is a biblical/spiritual relationship between child and parent. That is, children are commanded to “Honor your mother and father.” The Bible exhorts children to care for their elderly parents. So, there is already a biblical/spiritual relationship of responsibility that exists between child and parent. The Code envisions a sponsor to be a person outside the immediate family.
The General Introduction to Christian Initiation states it well:
“It is a very ancient custom of the Church that adults are not admitted to baptism without a godparent, a member of the Christian community who will assist them at least in the final preparation for baptism and after baptism will help them persevere in the faith and in their lives as Christians.”
I read this to mean someone who is a member of the larger Christian community outside of one’s immediate family. Someone who can act as a mentor, an advisor. I do not see a son or daughter being able to fully fulfill this role for a mother or father.
Canon law does not specifically prohibit a child from being the sponsor of a parent, however, the general logical intent behind Canon law and Christian initiation would prohibit a child from being the sponsor a parent. Answered by Msgr. Browne
6. What are the archdiocesan policies on funerals?
In 2013 Archbishop Vigneron wrote a Pastoral Letter of the Order of Christian Funerals.At that the time the Archdiocesan Worship Commission sent out the The Directives for Catholic Funerals Questions and Answers. A copy of that document is attached
7. What is Valid matter for Eucharist?
Because bread and wine for the Eucharist are no longer supplied just by religious communities, but "are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet," bishops should set up guidelines, an oversight body and/or even a form of certification to help "remove any doubt about the validity of the matter for the Eucharist," the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said.
The recommendations came in a circular letter, "On the bread and wine for the Eucharist," sent to diocesan bishops "at the request of the Holy Father, Pope Francis." Dated June 15 — the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ — the letter was made public by the Vatican July 8. The letter was signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, congregation prefect, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary.
The letter also reiterated norms already in place regarding Eucharistic matter:
People who live with celiac disease are unable to digest gluten, a type of protein commonly found in grains such as rye, barley and wheat. There also are people who live with non-celiac gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity whose health can be adversely affected by gluten.
- "The bread used in the celebration of the most holy Eucharistic sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition."
- Bread made from another substance, even grain or mixed with another substance so different from wheat that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread "does not constitute valid matter."
- The introduction of any other substances, "such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist," it said, "is a grave abuse."
- Low-gluten hosts are valid matter for people who, "for varying and grave reasons, cannot consume bread made in the usual manner," provided the hosts "contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread."
- Completely gluten-free hosts continue to be "invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist."
- Wine used in the celebration of the Eucharist "must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances," well conserved and have not soured.
- "It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance."
- No other drinks of any kind may not be admitted "for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter."
- For people who, "for varying and grave reasons," cannot consume wine fermented in the normal manner, "mustum" is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. Mustum is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature, for example, by freezing.
- Eucharistic matter made with genetically modified organisms can be considered valid matter.
- Permission must be given by the ordinary for an individual priest or layperson to use low-gluten hosts or mustum for the celebration of the Eucharist. "Permission can be granted habitually, for as long as the situation continues which occasioned the granting of permission."
The U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship has said Catholics who cannot receive Communion wafers at all, even under the species of low-gluten hosts, "may receive Holy Communion under the species of wine only." The church teaches that "under either species of bread or wine, the whole Christ is received," it said.
Medical certification of a condition justifying the use of mustum or low-gluten hosts for Communion is not required, the committee said. (courtesy National Catholic Reporter)
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.