Dear Parish Family,
In the musical, The King and I, the king of Siam tries to reconcile his thinking with that of Anna, the English governess: "Tis a puzzlement!" he says. Several weeks ago I was asked to write a letter for this week's parish bulletin on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), but I have to admit that I am a procrastinator. If I had immediately written on the RCIA as directed, I would not have ended up with a "puzzlement" of my own. Instead, I put RCIA on the "back burner" and started thinking about all the things going on in our parish: the Year of Faith in which we are to focus on and reaffirm our beliefs found in the Apostles Creed, the New Evangelization that Father Tim is studying at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, our new parish website, the impact of the upcoming election and religious freedom, bible studies, etc. Then we have such a great calendar for this coming week: Halloween (which means holy evening), All Saints and All Souls Days, followed by the Stewardship Ministry Expo next weekend. How was I ever going to put all of that together along with RCIA? 'Tis a puzzlement!
Whenever I back myself into a corner, I know I have to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and the answer will come. The Spirit never fails . . . the answer is found in Mystagogy, the final stage in the RCIA process.
But let's start at the beginning. What is RCIA, where did the rite come from, and why should it have an impact on us? RCIA is a journey or process of conversion leading to the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, and apprenticeship into the Christian way of life. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) decreed that the rite of Baptism for adults be revised and that the practice in the early Church of the catechumenate, which was divided into several steps, be restored. In 1984 the final English edition of the rite was approved by the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy for use in the United States. In the rite those who have never been baptized are called catechumens. Candidates are either those who have been baptized in another Christian faith but wish to become Catholics or baptized Catholics who have never been catechized and have not received the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1229), the journey has no time restrictions, but must include certain essential elements such as proclamation of the Word and a positive response of faith, aided bygrace.
Very briefly, the first stage in the RCIA process is the Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate in which a person comes to inquire, to know, and to believe in Jesus Christ and to have some understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is a start in the process of inner conversion, that is, turning to God and repenting. The Period of the Catechumenate follows in which the catechumens and candidates are provided with suitable catechesis that is gradual and complete, supported by the liturgy of the Word. They are introduced to the Christian way of life through prayer, witness, and example. The third period is called Purification and Enlightenment and takes place during the Lenten season. This is a time of intense reflection and conversion leading up to the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. The final period is called Mystagogy, a deeper understanding ofthe mysteries
of our faith, especially the Paschal Mystery, so that we may grow in faith, celebrate Eucharist together, and live as Christ calls us to live.
Just think about it. Any Catholic who has already received the Sacraments of Initiation is now in this period known as Mystagogy. In Mystagogy the Rite of Initiation (Rite No. 244) calls us to be faith-filled and to fully participate in our parish community through liturgy, catechesis, and service to others.
So let's relook at some of the ways that our parish helps us to live according to the model of Mystagogy. In liturgy this week we participate in a special way in the Mystical Body of Christ. On All Saints Day we, the pilgrim church on earth, celebrate communion with all the saints who intercede for us in heaven. We honor with great respect the memory of the dead and . . . pray for them (CCC 957-959) on All Souls Day. With emphasis on the Year of Faith, the New Evangelization, and Bible Study we have the opportunity to be catechized so that we can grow in our understanding of the faith. The Stewardship Expo presents many ways for us to consider how we can share our time, talent, and treasure so that we may truly be called "apprentices to Christ" thereby learning to serve others as Jesus served. By our participation in parish life we are living our parish mission statement to answer Christ's call to come and follow him. Perhaps without even being aware of it, you and I are now taking part in the RCIA process. We are living in the period of Mystagogy!
With joy in the Spirit, Dolores WrightBACK TO LIST