by Kathy Kuczka
Lent is laden with rites for the Catechumens and Candidates. But, the rites aren’t only for the benefit of those in the process of initiation. The Rite of Christian Initiation tells us that rites should be executed so that the “entire community benefits.” Here are some ways to involve the initiating community.
The Rite of Sending
Adapt the Affirmation by the Godparents from the standard stock questions and answers. Instead, have the Godparents talk freely about how they have seen God at work in the Catechumen. If your parish is small enough, you may ask others in the assembly for the same kind of witness.
Following the signing of the Book of the Elect, hold the book high or walk around the community so that all can see.
Following the Rite of Election keep the book near the community’s baptismal font so that everyone is aware of those who will soon be baptized. Invite the entire community to reflect on adaptations of the questions asked about the Catechumens and Candidates. For example: How do I listen and respond to the Word of God? Is conversion evident in the way I live my life.
The Scrutiny Rites
Adapt the intercessions based on reflections given by the Elect on the Gospels of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. The intercessions will both name the weaknesses and strengths of the Elect. Use those intercessions as the Prayer of the Faithful at all the Masses during those Sundays, making the community aware that the Elect have written them.
Have the Godparents or other members of the community lay hands on the Elect during the rite.
The Penitential Rite
Consider putting the Penitential Rite at the parish’s Lenten Penance Service.
Ask the children who have just experienced their first reconciliation to write notes of affirmation to the Candidates who are approaching the Sacrament for the first time.
Be sure the Rites are in full view of the community.
Rotate the rites at various Masses so that the entire parish is able to participate in one or more of the rites.
Teach music for the rite at the beginning of Mass as a way to explain the meaning of the rite.
Catechize the community with information on the rites in bulletins, in eblasts, on TV monitors and on the parish website.
Most Important of All
Find ways to involve the community every step of the way. Be creative. If we do this consistently, the entire community will be renewed!