Q. I have a question about the minor rites. Because of COVID, should we skip all exorcisms, blessings, and anointings before the Rite of Election? Or should we try and include the anointing at the Rite of Election? Is the anointing in the minor rites the same thing as the prebaptismal anointing?
A. I would not combine the Rite of Election with an Anointing of the Catechumens. They are two separate rites, and combining them would not make sense.
Anointing in the revised Roman Missal
The revised Roman Missal says, “If the anointing of the adults with the Oil of Catechumens has not taken place beforehand, as part of the immediately preparatory rites, it occurs at this moment” (“Easter Vigil” #48).
That is, the (first) anointing may occur at the Easter Vigil after the Blessing of Water and the Renunciation of Satan, if it has not taken place during the period of the catechumenate. The current translation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults does not include this new rubric, so the liturgical books don’t match; I am guessing if and when the RCIA is translated, it will match the more recently translated Roman Missal.
What about the exorcism and the blessing?
In terms of the minor exorcism and blessing of catechumens, both of these include this instruction: “When there is some special need, one of these prayers of [exorcism or blessing] may be said privately for individual catechumens (see RCIA 92 and 96).
So if you are unable to gather with a small group for these minor rites, the prayers may still be used with the catechumen individually (and I would also guess that they could be beneficial even over a video conference, if needed).
How is your parish handling the minor RCIA rites this year? What plans do you have in place for Lent? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
3 thoughts on “Q&A: How to celebrate the Anointing of the Catechumens and other RCIA minor rites in pandemic”
Regarding the anointing of Catechumen,
Would it be appropriate to do that as part of the Rite of Acceptance?
Hi, Susan. The anointing of a catechumen is not part of the Rite of Acceptance. The purpose of the anointing is to strengthen a catechumen during the period of the catechumenate, especially at times when they are feeling in need of that strengthening. The Rite of Acceptance is the beginning of that period and in itself strengthens the new catechumen in their new order. So it would not make sense to combine the two distinct rituals. Hope that helps!
See this post for ideas on when you can celebrate an anointing:
Five times to anoint a catechumen during the RCIA process