1. Don’t hand the elect a written text
In the celebration of the presentations, what is being handed on is the teaching of the church (Creed) and the method of approaching the Father in prayer (Lord’s Prayer). St. Augustine called these the treasures of the church. They are handed over heart to heart. The elect are expected to hear the tradition and memorize it. How can they do that without a written text? In the ancient church, it was up to the godparents to make sure the elect were able to learn the Creed and Lord’s Prayer by heart. You may not want to be that strict, but give the written text to the elect after the liturgy and not as part of the ritual.
2. Don’t combine the presentations with the scrutinies
It is ideal that a large body of the faithful hand over the Creed and Lord’s Prayer to the elect, which leads some parishes to combine the presentations with the scrutinies. Unfortunately, this diminishes the ritual meaning and power of both rites. A better option is to anticipate the presentations by celebrating them on Sundays in winter Ordinary Time, close to Lent (see RCIA 104-105). If that’s not possible, try combining the presentations with something else that is happening in the parish during Lent. For example, weekday Mass, Stations of the Cross, Holy Hour, a prayer before a Knights of Columbus meeting, or a parish soup supper. If your pastor cannot preside, the parish deacon (or a deacon from a neighboring parish) can fill in.
3. Don’t celebrate the presentations with the baptized candidates
There is an exception. If your candidate was baptized as an infant and received no further catechesis, he or she might be someone to whom you want to present the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. But if your candidate grew up reciting the Creed and Lord’s Prayer as part of their childhood, they definitely would not celebrate these rites.
4. Don’t change the assigned readings
The readings for these rites are specific to the action of the rite. If you change them, especially the gospel for the Presentation of the Lord’s Prayer, you will be malforming the elect. If you celebrate the presentations at an Ordinary Time Sunday Mass or a Lenten weekday Mass, you may change the readings of the Mass to accommodate these rites. You can find the assigned readings at RCIA 158 and RCIA 178.
How to celebrate amazing ritual
So as not to end on a negative note, here are four things you can do to make your presentations amazing!
1. Proclaim the Creed and the gospel reading of the Lord’s Prayer slowly, breathing after each line break. You will have to coach your assembly on this before the liturgy begins, but it only takes a couple of lines for people to get it. The Lord’s Prayer is proclaimed as the gospel reading, so you only need to get the presider or the deacon to breathe after each line break.
2. Spread the elect around. Place them in the center aisle and, if you have enough people, also in the side aisles. Have the assembly turn toward the elect closest to them as the Creed and Lord’s Prayer are being presented.
3. To get the elect in place, don’t just have them go to their assigned spots. Call them forward with their godparents. Then instruct the assembly to reverence the elect by bowing to them as they pass by. Follow that instruction by having the music ministry sing the Litany of Saints and process the elect through the church, dropping them off at each of their assigned stations. Rehearse ahead of time with the godparents.
4. For the Prayer over the Elect at the end of the rite, ask the members of the assembly to step out of their pews and place a hand on the shoulder of the elect closest to them. Anyone who can’t reach an elect places his hand on the parishioner in front of him so as to create a human chain of prayer.
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Thank you Team RCIA for reminding us of the importance of these Rites and the Joy with which we need to proceed.Lenten Blessings to you.