Sunday mornings were a whirlwind of drama when I was a kid. My mother, a single parent, was like a hen trying to round up her uncooperative chicks to get us to Mass each week. I think of those days when I read in the RCIA, “The Church, like a mother, helps the catechumens on their journey by suitable liturgical rites” (75.3).
This seems to me to be an excellent job description for RCIA sponsors: Be a mother hen, especially about liturgy.
Five essential liturgical tasks for RCIA sponsors
The sponsors should be the people primarily responsible for the full, conscious, and active participation of the catechumens in the liturgy. Here are just a few things sponsors need to attend to:
- Make sure the catechumens are at Mass every Sunday
- Encourage the catechumens to pray over the readings before coming to Mass
- Teach the catechumens the people’s responses in the liturgy
- Set an example for the catechumens by singing the opening song and the other sung parts of the Mass
- Teach the catechumens the appropriate postures and gestures and the reasons for those postures and gestures
In addition, the sponsors can help the catechumens learn about the flow of the liturgical year by explaining to them the changes in colors and environment in the church. Sponsors might also help the catechumens learn about liturgies beyond Sunday Mass by accompanying them to parish baptisms, weddings, anointings, funerals, and weekday Masses. I know that participating in Holy Day liturgies is falling out of fashion, but it is still an obligation for all Catholics. Sponsors should be diligent about participating in these liturgies and bringing their catechumens with them.
Bringing liturgy home
Sponsors might also help the catechumens celebrate the liturgies of the domestic church. Some areas to focus on would include:
- Morning prayer
- Prayer before meals
- Blessing prayer for specific occasions
- Intercessory prayer for family needs
- Prayer before bedtime
The RCIA sponsor’s most important task
Even more importantly however, is that the sponsors help the catechumens recognize the person of Jesus Christ in all of these liturgical events. To do that, the sponsors must have an ongoing awareness of their own encounter with Christ in the liturgy. There is a tendency for some of us to focus on the Eucharist and specifically the sharing in communion as the time when we truly encounter Christ. The Eucharist, is of course, the premiere way in which we encounter Christ. But it is not the only way.
Since the catechumens are dismissed before the Eucharist, it will be important for the sponsors to help the catechumens recognize Christ in all the other aspects and forms of the church’s liturgy. By mentoring the catechumens in the fullest possible liturgical life they can have short of the Eucharist, the sponsors will be preparing catechumens for the day when they join with us fully at the Lord’s table.
What’s your story?
How do your sponsors assist in the mandate to help the catechumens on their liturgical journey? Please share your comments below so that others will benefit from your experience.
2 thoughts on “Why RCIA sponsors are like poultry”
I really appreciate what Nick has shared regarding liturgical participation. I would also suggest that Sponsors accompany catechumens to other types of activities in the parish such as visiting the sick or prisoners and working on the parish fundraisers and other communtiy building activities. Besides learning how to pray with the community, the catechumens need to get to know community memebers and learn how they offer “apostolic service” to those in need.
Thanks Rosanne! These are all great ideas. For even more on living an apostolic lifestyle, you might want to take a look at: “Do your RCIA sponsors know the single reason for Jesus’ death and resurrection?”