The Rite of ElectionA Self-Guided Tutorial Created by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond’s Office of Worship Winter 2008
Before you begin: • Have a copy of the Rite book on hand • Have something on which to write responses to the discussion questions if you are doing this alone • Make sure to read the notes sections on slides where there are asterisks **. If you are doing this in a group, arrange to have someone read the notes aloud to the group. • There are breaks built into this tutorial at times where the focus will shift. Try to work on this until one of these breaks, to hold the continuity of the thoughts. • Pray
Introduction For Whom is this tutorial designed? • For RCIA Coordinators and Teams • For DREs and CREs • For Priests • For Deacons • For Pastoral Coordinators • For all those called by God and entrusted by the Church with initiating others into the Christian life lived as Roman Catholics
Introduction What are the purposes of this tutorial? • By starting with the end in mind (thank you Stephen Covey), to take a look at what the Rite of Election tells us about the process of initiating • To deepen understanding of the Rite of Election • To increase familiarity with the ritual text • To start to decode the high context language of the ritual text. (No surprise that RCIA Coordinators and Teams were not the target audience for the ritual text! Bishops are the primary audience, followed by priests.)
What are the best uses of this tutorial? • Individual self-guided learning: Giving RCIA Coordinators and Team members an opportunity to increase their understanding of the initiation process without asking them to come to a meeting. Giving a self-guided learning format to DREs, CREs, pastors and pastoral coordinators responsible for the quality and integrity of formation within their parishes and so wish to understand the implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation more fully.** • Gathered RCIA Team Formation: All RCIA Teams benefit from continuing to learn about the implementation of this Rite. This tutorial can form the basis of monthly or quarterly team formation meetings. Meet together, pray, watch the tutorial and enter into the discussion.
What are the best uses of this tutorial? Regional or Cluster RCIA Team Formation: Gathered with the initiating community from neighboring or cluster parishes, with a facilitator, view this tutorial and enter into discussion. • For clergy formation either individually or in groups.
PRAY Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the spirit of God. ~Edwin Keith Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,Uttered or unexpressed;The motion of a hidden fireThat trembles in the breast.~James Montgomery, What is Prayer?
A NOTE REGARDING Children of Catechetical Age “Since children who have reached the age of reason** are considered, for purposes of Christian initiation, to be adults, (canon 852:1), their formation should follow the general pattern of the ordinary catechumenate as far as possible, with the appropriate adaptations permitted by the ritual. They should receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and eucharist at the Easter Vigil, together with the older catechumens.” (National Statutes #18)
PART ONEWhat is the Rite of Election?** • The second public liturgical step in the restored process of Christian initiation (RCIA #118) • A ritual that closes the period of the catechumenate and opens the period of purification and enlightenment. (RCIA #118)
What is the Rite of Election? A ritual that is based upon (RCIA #119): • The testimony of godparents/catechists • The catechumens’ reaffirmation of their intention to follow Christ in the Roman Catholic tradition, as first stated in the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens • A communal discernment of readiness to embrace the way of the cross and the life of discipleship (more on discernment to come…)
What is the Rite of Election? • A liturgical rite that is the focal point of the Church’s concern for catechumens (RCIA #121) • An episcopal liturgy, which means it is a liturgy presided over by the Bishop or his delegate. This is significant because the Bishop will affirm God’s action in our midst and acknowledge the Church’s witness to that action on behalf of the entire Roman Catholic Church.**
For Discussion • What is new information in this explanation of the Rite of Election? • What do you see in this explanation that affirms what you are already doing in your initiation process? • Write down any questions you have. Look for them to be answered in the remainder of the tutorial. If they are not, check the RCIA link on the office of worship webpage at www.richmonddiocese.org/worship or email them to Catherine Combier-Donovan, Director of the Office of Worship at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is “discernment of readiness”? It’s different from just making a decision. According to Donna Steffen in her book Discerning Disciples, “Discernment is not so much a rational process, but a listening to what God is doing, to where God is leading.”**
What is “discernment of readiness?” The word discernment comes from the Latin discernere. It has a sense of sifting through or separating, taking apart. What are we “sifting through”? The various spirits that are operating. It begins with observing behavior and then goes deeper: what’s causing the behavior? Discernment involves the heart, feelings, gut instincts and of course, the mind. Steffen, pages 6 and 7
What can help us discern? Start with the RITUAL TEXT **. It gives us the marks of spiritual development for each stage of the initiation process. Since the ritual text has the same authority as Canon Law, all initiation practitioners are to carry out the intentions of the ritual text. This is one of the many ways we preserve the union of the Church and acknowledge the action of the Holy Spirit in our midst.
What can help us discern? Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens Paragraph 42 lists the marks of spiritual development that are to have taken place BEFORE the celebration of the Rite of Acceptance Rite of Election Paragraph 120 (which builds on paragraph 42) lists the marks of spiritual development that are to have taken place BEFORE the celebration of the Rite of Election
A Look at the Ritual Text Remember, the Rite of Election is based upon the idea that readiness has been discerned. Readiness is characterized by (RCIA #120): • A conversion in mind and action • A sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching • A spirit of faith • A spirit of charity
What do these descriptions of readiness mean? A conversion in mind and action. This means that both attitudes and behaviors have begun to change to be in accord with the gospels of Christ and the teachings of the Church. For example, a catechumen employed by a boss who cheats customers and expects employees to do the same changes jobs. Someone who once ignored the poor on street corners now gives them a meal.
What do these descriptions of readiness mean? A sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching • Long enough, several years if necessary, for the conversion and faith of the catechumen to become strong. A sufficiently long period of probation. (RCIA #76) • A period of formation beginning at the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and including both the periods of the catechumenate and purification and enlightenment, that should be AT LEAST(emphasis added) one full year. (National Statutes #6**)
What do these descriptions of readiness mean? A sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching • Contains these components of formation: Word, Worship, Communal Life, and Work for Charity and Justice. (RCIA #75)
What do these descriptors mean? • Thoroughly comprehensive is defined as at least once around the liturgical year where the entire mystery of Christ unfolds; means that formation and instruction take place during the seasons of Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter, without taking the usual school year type breaks. The theological and doctrinal truths of these celebrations are crucial to “a sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching.”
What do these descriptors mean? • A thoroughly comprehensive catechesis** on the truths of Catholic doctrine (National Statutes #7) means to hand on those doctrines found in the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed, for those are the truths the community “presents” to the catechumens during the period of Purification and Enlightenment.
Thoroughly Comprehensive also means • To hand on the doctrines that undergird our prayer and spirituality, our life in community and our moral lives. Remember, thoroughly comprehensive is to be understood in terms of a catechumen preparing to BEGIN a life of faith. That is a very different definition than what constitutes “thoroughly comprehensive” for a theology student, a seminarian, a lay ecclesial minister or even an already initiated adult.
What do the phrases “Moral Formation” &“Approved Catechetical Texts” mean? • “Moral Formation” means those teachings that concern individual morality as well as the Church’s treasury of social morality known as Catholic Social Teaching. • Aided by “approved catechetical texts” means that the supporting doctrinal sources we place into the hands of catechumens to help their understanding of Catholic doctrine must bear the ecclesial designations imprimatur and nihil obstat, both of which indicate that all of the doctrinal content of the resource is within the scope of official Church teaching. ** The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its November, 2007 meeting, determined that they will not be issuing a “curriculum” for RCIA, but will instead focus on the ways in which the US Catholic Catechism for Adults can be appropriately used to support this segment of initiation.
ReviewComprehensive Catechesis means: • Once around the liturgical year (at a minimum) • Doctrinal truths based on the liturgical year • When more than one doctrinal truth flows from the liturgy, then the choice is made based upon those truths found in the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer • Prayer and spirituality introduced and some practices established (including mystagogical reflection) • Individual and social morality explored • Reflection on works of justice and charity
What we’ve done so far: Introduced discernment Offered some decoding of the phrases: A sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching Thoroughly comprehensive Moral formation Approved catechetical texts We still have two more phrases to “decode”: a. A spirit of faith b. A spirit of charity But before we do, we’ll pause to discuss:
DISCUSSION • About what aspects of this information do you want to spend some time talking with team members, the coordinator, or the pastor? Why? • Around what ideas are you affirmed in your implementation of the Rite? • Around what ideas are you sensing some changes in your practice might be in order?
What does “a spirit of faith” mean? From Paragraph 42 of the Ritual text: • Ongoing conversion: as the Gospel is broken open and the Tradition handed on, catechumens find themselves in a constant cycle of change • Repentance: the cycle of change includes turning away from past behaviors and adopting new ones, and expressing sorrow for the ways of the past • A relationship with the Church as spiritual repository and as institution: the Church mediates Christ to the world and so is an important part of a Catholic Christian’s faith life
What does “a spirit of faith” mean? From Paragraph 42 of the ritual text: • A recognition of the absolute necessity for a relationship with the Christian community: We are saved as a people, not alone. We experience grace through one another and we bring Christ’s message to the world powerfully together. • A deeper understanding of the grace, mystery and power of liturgy: the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives together.
What does a “spirit of faith” mean? From RCIA Paragraph 75: • Turning to God more readily in prayer • Bearing witness to their faith in Jesus Christ (they can talk about this, as well as live its principles) • Having hope in Jesus Christ, in good times and bad • Following supernatural inspiration in their actions. Knowing how to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit and having the courage to act in accord with them. • Loving their neighbors, even when it goes against their own self-interest
DISCUSSION • Share stories of people with whom you have journeyed who have had a spirit of faith. How did you know that? • What effect does a spirit of faith have on those it touches? • What actions, qualities and words help you know you are in the company of a person of faith?
What does a “spirit of charity” mean? • Love of neighbor, even when it goes against self-interest. (Yes, this is a repeat for it is at the heart of discipleship.) • The corporal and spiritual works of mercy have taken flesh in the catechumen. They feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, admonish sinners, bury the dead, etc. • They are generous with their time, talent and treasure, finding ways to bring the love of Christ into many situations both in the parish and in the larger community.
What does a “spirit of charity” mean? • They are slow to anger and rich in compassion, choosing kindness, goodness and mercy over vengeance, retribution and holding grudges. • They are inclined toward that which serves the common good, looking to Catholic Social Teaching to guide them as they formulate opinions and actions that speak of Christ’s love for others.
Discussion • Share stories of people you know who have a spirit of charity. What helps you to know that is their disposition? • How are those who are touched by the spirit of charity affected?
Time to Review • What is the Rite of Election? • 2nd public liturgical step in Christian initiation • Closes the period of the catechumenate and opens the period of purification and enlightenment • Is the ritual that is the focal point of the Church’s concern for catechumens • Is an episcopal liturgy, meaning that it is presided over by the Bishop or his delegate
Time to Review • What is the Rite of Election? • Is a ritual that is based upon: • The testimony of godparents and catechists • Catechumens’ reaffirming their intention to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the Roman Catholic tradition • Discerned readiness to receive the sacraments of initiation
Still Reviewing… • Took a look at the meanings of the words/phrases: • Discernment • Conversion in mind and action • Sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching • Comprehensive doctrinal formation • Moral life • Ecclesiastically approved catechetical texts • A spirit of faith • A spirit of charity
PART TWOWhy is the Rite of Election only for the unbaptized? The theology of election is anchored in the idea of God having a holy and chosen people, those known as his elect. Baptism is the sacramental ritual that marks the beginning of our covenant relationship with God as a chosen son or daughter. Therefore, those who are already baptized are among God’s holy and chosen ones, God’s elect, even if they have not yet explored the dignity and meaning of that baptism. **
Continuing to explain: Why is the Rite of Election only for the unbaptized? The Rite of Election is part of their journey toward full initiation into the Roman Catholic Church. It is targeted then toward those who do not yet know themselves as God’s Elect, the unbaptized. It marks the moment when the catechumens declare their intention. Then the Bishop, on behalf of the Church recognizes God’s call to them and declares them ready to celebrate the Easter mysteries after a final period of preparation. He then names them anew: the Elect, God’s holy and chosen ones, who after baptism and confirmation will join with us at the table of the Lord.
PART THREE:What does the Rite of Election proclaim? • That God is active in our midst, calling all to conversion and the unbaptized to life with Christ in the Roman Catholic community. • That the community has discerned God’s actions in the hearts and lives of the catechumens and can witness aloud to that.
What does the Rite of Election proclaim? In addition to those two general messages, each of the participants in the Rite have specific messages: the catechumens, the godparents, the RCIA Team and the Church through the Bishop. The next slides let you know what each has to say.
Catechumens proclaim: • Their personal conversions. They are now people of justice, charity, compassion and repentance. They are disciples of Jesus ready to join the baptized community. • Their relationship with Christ. Christ is living in them and they in him. They are people of prayer, self-examination, reflection and contemplation.
Catechumens also proclaim: • Their need for the community of faith. They are no longer individuals, but are joined to other Christians. They do not journey alone and cannot imagine living this life without members of the community. • Their desire to become one with Christ and with us who are the Church, at the Table of the Lord. They yearn for that communion, and for the Bread of Life.
During the Rite of Election: Godparents proclaim: • That they have witnessed first-hand the conversion, commitment, community and hunger for Eucharist. • That they have been with the catechumen long enough to assure the community this conversion is authentic and long-lasting. • That they are willing to make a lifetime commitment to journey in faith with this catechumen. • That they are willing to go on record themselves, before God and the Christian community, that this person is in fact a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The RCIA Team proclaims: • That they have provided sufficient formation in the ways of faith, grounded in word, worship, community and witness. • That they have engaged in times of authentic discernment of the catechumen’s readiness to embrace the way of the cross in the Roman Catholic tradition. • That they have been faithful to handing on the Roman Catholic tradition to these catechumens.
The RCIA Team also proclaims: • That enough time has been offered these catechumens, respecting their individual faith journeys and not moving them along on a prescribed calendar. • That the community knows and loves these catechumens and is ready to embrace them and nurture them throughout the coming year so that these catechumens will not feel abandoned as their process of formation changes.
And finally, during the Rite of Election:The Church through the Bishop proclaims: • That God is alive and at work calling people to God in Christ. • That the Church is a witness to this holy action. • That these individual catechumens are beloved of God, and entrusted to the Church. • That these catechumens are now members of God’s Elect as affirmed by the Church and by the enrollment of their names in the Book of the Elect. • That these Elect, after a final period of spiritual preparation, are ready to be admitted to the Easter mysteries because they are disciples of the Lord Jesus, as attested to by those who know them.
Time to Review • The Rite of Election proclaims that God is at work right here in our midst. God is a God of the living. • The Rite of Election proclaims that we, the Church, are witnesses to and heralds of this good news, of Emmanuel: God-with-us.