At Mass recently, you may have noticed at the 10:30 liturgy, the first few pews have
been reserved. We also had a special blessing during the first Sunday of Lent, and then
dismissals right after the homily for those who are involved in preparing for full reception
into the Catholic Church at Easter going through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
This weekend, we’ll have a special part at our 10:30 called the “scrutiny.” Though this is
what one of my seminary professors called our final exam, what the RCIA candidates
will be going through will be a bit less stressful. Basically it’s where a person preparing
for confirmation at the Easter Vigil makes a public declaration of their intentions and
Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that and RCIA as a whole. Our catechumens
(those to be baptized, confirmed and make their first Holy Communion) and candidates
(those who have been baptized but will make their first Communion and be confirmed)
have been preparing for quite some time for Easter. And helping them has been Lori
Hannasch who has been leading the program this year.
As we will have the scrutinies this weekend at our Mass, I thought it would be a good
time to explain RCIA and what it involves, as so many of us are baptized as infants and
go through faith formation as teens.
So, here’s what RCIA looks like and entails. This comes from the USCCB (United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops) website and is written by Jeannine Marino, a
progream specialist at the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis of the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
For most parishes, Sunday Mass during Lent has been different as people called “the
elect” and “candidates” have been called forth to the altar. As the Easter Triduum
approaches, the Church prepares to welcome these participants in Rite of Christian
Initiation of Adults (RCIA) through the Sacraments of Initiation. RCIA is not only for
those seeking full initiation into the Church, RCIA involves the whole Christian
RCIA is mainly for two groups of people: the unbaptized and baptized Christians
seeking full communion with the Church. Some dioceses also include baptized but
uncatechized Catholics. For the unbaptized, RCIA prepares them to receive all three
Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Baptized Christians and
Catholics will receive Confirmation and/or the Eucharist.
Here are ten important steps in the RCIA process and their significance for the
participants and the entire Church:
1. Period of Evangelization: Through baptism every Catholic is called to preach the
Good News and share the gift of faith they received with the world; all are urged to invite
friends and family members to Mass. Sometimes this invitation inspires people to
consider the Catholic Church and RCIA.
2. Rite of Acceptance and Welcome: This marks the first time those in RCIA officially
assemble before the parish. After their initial conversion, they declare publicly their
intention to enter into a relationship with Christ and his Church. The parish commits to
praying for them. From this point on those seeking baptism are called catechumens,
and those seeking full communion with the Church are called candidates.
3. Celebration of the Word: After the Rite of Acceptance, the catechumens are usually
dismissed from Mass after the Liturgy of the Word to reflect more deeply on Scripture
and prepare themselves for their eventual participation in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
This dismissal is not meant to exclude those in RCIA from the Liturgy of the Eucharist,
but to help them and the parish joyfully build up anticipation of the Easter Sacraments.
4. Sending of the Catechumens and Candidates: Before the First Sunday of Lent, those
in RCIA are called before the parish, which prays for them and sends them forth to
present themselves to the bishop. They are presented to the bishop because he is the
chief pastor of the diocese and admits them to the Easter Sacraments on behalf of the
5. Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion: This rite is usually held on the
First Sunday of Lent and marks the catechumens and candidates’ final preparation for
the Easter Sacraments. They reaffirm their intention to join the Church. In the presence
of the bishop, the catechumens inscribe their name in the Book of the Elect. From this
point forward, the catechumens are called the elect.
6. Period of Purification and Enlightenment: This period begins with the Rite of Election
and is a season of intense spiritual preparation and reflection on the Paschal Mystery.
The elect and candidates are called to deepen their relationship with Christ, and the
parish community is called to increase their prayers and support of the elect and
7. Scrutinies: The Scrutinies are rites of conversion and repentance. They include
prayers of intercession and exorcism and are intended to deliver the elect from sin,
protect them from temptation and invite them closer to Christ, who is the living water,
the light of the world and the Resurrection and the Life. The three Scrutinies are
celebrated on the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent.
8. Presentation of the Creed and Lord’s Prayer: After the first Scrutiny, those in RCIA
are entrusted with the Creed and after the third Scrutiny, the Lord’s Prayer. The Creed
professes the faith, and the Lord’s Prayer teaches believers to call upon the Father as
Christ did. At the Easter Vigil, those in RCIA will for the first time publicly profess the
Creed and participate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist to pray the Lord’s Prayer.
9. Easter Vigil: The “most blessed of all nights,” as proclaimed by the Exsultet, is the
night the Church joyfully anticipates Christ’s Resurrection. The elect receive all three
Sacraments of Initiation and candidates for full communion receive confirmation and/or
the Eucharist. For the first time, the elect and candidates are welcomed to the Lord’s
Table as full disciples of Christ.
10. Mystagogy: After receiving the Easter Sacraments, the neophytes (newly initiated)
continue their faith formation during the period of mystagogy (which means
“interpretation of mystery”). Mystagogy is the time of post-baptismal catechesis. It
typically lasts for one year. This time allows the neophytes to reflect on their experience
of the sacraments, Scripture, grow closer to Christ through the Eucharist and participate
more frequently in the parish. The parish community is called to mentor the neophytes
as they begin to live as Christian disciples and fulfill their baptismal vocation to
So as you can see, there’s a lot that goes into it. The Easter Triduum liturgies are my
favorites of the entire year, and it’s such an honor to celebrate the sacraments with
these people each year who like Moses approaching the burning bush, come to explore
and know God at a deeper level responding to the call to follow Him, and enter fully into
His Church. Please keep them in your prayers.
|Ashley Cridlebaugh –
14 yrs old
|Grant Cridlebaugh –
16 yrs old
|Gabrielle (Ella) Pierce|
|Christina (Tina) Quy|
|Robert (Bob) Whaley|
|Samuel Cordoza – 14 yrs old|
|Sophia Cordoza – 10 yrs old|
|Charles Drummer – 20 mos old|
|Isabella Drummer – 11 yrs old|
|Jonathon (Jack) Drummer – 8 yrs old|
|Ari Paitich – 8 yrs old|