In the Rite (Order) of Christian Initiation of Adults, we have several celebrations for the catechumens: the Rite of Election, the three scrutinies, the Presentations of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer (or Rites of Handing On), and the preparation rites on Holy Saturday. But what do we have in Lent for the baptized candidates?
Since most of the baptized candidates are already participating in a life of discipleship at some level (see this post), their primary role during Lent is to accompany the unbaptized catechumens on their journey of faith. The proposed new translation of the Rite (Order) of Christian Initiation of Adults puts it this way:
In the varying circumstances of everyday life, as in the apostolate, every disciple of Christ is individually obliged to spread the faith. He or she must therefore help others throughout the course of their Initiation. (9)
Opportunities that aren’t in the Rite
During Lent, the Rite (Order) of Christian Initiation of Adults says that disciples help catechumens on the course of their initiation in these ways:
On the day of Election, since the addition of members to the community itself is involved, [disciples] should take care to give a just and prudent testimony about the catechumens when appropriate.
During Lent, which is the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, [disciples] should take care to be present at the Rites of the Scrutinies and of Handing On [Presentations] and give the catechumens the example of their own renewal in the spirit of penitence, faith and charity. They should be eager to renew their own baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil. (9.3, 9.4)
In other words, Lent has the same opportunities for baptized candidates as it does for baptized parishioners. We renew our conversion to Jesus through “penitence, faith and charity.”
The Rite (Order) of Christian Initiation of Adults does include a few rites for baptized candidates in addition to those celebrated by the parishioners. However, these rites are for those baptized candidates who have never, ever had any meaningful encounter with Jesus and have no training at all for living as disciples (see RCIA 400). That is not the case for most baptized candidates, and the rites included in the Rite (Order) of Christian Initiation of Adults would not be appropriate for them.
Appropriate Lenten rites and practices
These would be some of the Lenten rites that would be appropriate for most of our baptized candidates.
- Ash Wednesday liturgy
- Sunday Masses in Lent
- Rite of Sending Catechumens for Election by the Bishop (as participating members of assembly)
- The scurtinies (as participating members of assembly)
- The presentations (as participating members of assembly)
- The Rite of Penance (especially if there is a parish-wide celebration of penance in Lent)
In addition, most parishes encourage penitential practices and devotional prayer during Lent. Baptized candidates might participate in some of these actions:
- Increased personal prayer, especially prayer for the catechumens
- Increased reading of scripture
- Increased acts of giving of time, talent, and treasure
- Weekday liturgy
- Fasting, especially on the Fridays of Lent
- Palm Sunday procession
- Stations of the Cross
- Nightly examination of conscience
Enlist your sponsors!
You can call upon the sponsors of the baptized candidates to help with all of this. Encourage your sponsors to commit to their own Lenten renewal and to mentor the baptized candidates in getting more deeply involved in the Lenten activities of the parish.
Lent has a lot to offer the baptized candidates. Use some of these ideas to provide them with a rich formation process that will renew and deepen their own conversion, the conversion of your parishioners, and the conversion of the catechumens (who will learn from the example of the candidates).
How do you get your baptized candidates involved in the parish during Lent? Where do you direct their energy? Share your thoughts in the comments below.