Tom Coyle IN MY LAST article I wrote about the challenge of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) for our parish communities. Many parishes have now introduced it and are finding that in becoming more evangelical, in re-discovering their mission to preach the Good News of Jesus, their faith is being renewed and they are becoming a true Christian community.
Until now parishes have had the help of Diocesan Liturgical and Catechetical Commissions, but to a large extent they have had to find their own way, which is of course a good thing. But the rites can be confusing and the recent definitive edition of the rite is a time to take stock. Some books have been available from the USA but they have addressed their own pastoral situation.
As the use of the rite becomes more widespread in our country we shall, hopefully, see many more home-produced books addressing our own situation and flowing from our experience. One such is the recently
",Wished study guide published
t,, St Thomas More Centre (price £8.50, obtainable from bookshops or from the Centre at The Burroughs, Hendon, London NW4 4TY). No doubt this will be reviewed in these columns but I should just like to emphasise that it is an essential guide for all those parishes who are using, or are contemplating using the RCIA.
In addition to the complete text of the approved liturgical rites, it contains a most informative article on the Catechesis of the RCIA by Patrick Purnell SJ; a Pastoral Commentary by Ann Tomalak of the St Thomas More Centre; and an excellent liturgical commentary by Mgr J D Crichton.
The point is made that after the completion of the journey envisaged by the rite, "There may be a let-down as the new and exciting becomes dull and ordinary." Fr Purnell reflects that "the harsh reality of Christians not living up to their calling can buffet the neophytes' (the new Christians) fervour."
There is no doubt that the celebration of the liturgy, Sunday by Sunday, and not just during Lent and Easter which is the time specially devoted to the formation of the new members of the church, must be for the whole community a time to deepen their own faith and become more truly Christian. As Fr Purnell points out, it is necessary for Catechists (and, I might add, for the whole Christian community) to "reflect upon how they, themselves, celebrate the Eucharist, where God's saving love is made present irrelevant is too firmly fixed in the and effective. minds of those who have perhaps It is in reaching into the depths had to endure the mind-bending
of this love and allowing its boredom of so-called Christian power to free.the understanding assemblies at school. Or it may of everything which holds it suffer from the hi-jacking ot captive to prejudice, selfChrist's teaching by politicians seeking, hatred, envy; that who try to use His message for renders it capable of coming to their own highly questionable terms with scripture; of hearing ends.
the Word of God. Furthermore, Christianity has to break out it is in the light of celebrating of these bonds and become what Eucharist that Christians come to it has always been a life-giving a new understanding of the faith, force with a message of hope and the Church and the world." love for all, regardless of race, The RCIA is a challenge to the colour or social position.
Christian community to be true Our weekly celebration of the to itself and its faith in the Lord Eucharist should be the Jesus. It is an opportunity for inspiration for us to proclaim the parishes to look at themselves gospel with our lives. I have no and what they are doing are doubt that parishes involved in they only concerned with the RCIA spend a lot of time providing the sacraments for preparing and evaluating the their own members,or are they liturgy for the various stages of concern with reaching out, to the rite. They must not stop bring the Good News of Jesus there. Every celebration of the into a world which seems to have Eucharist is special because it is turned its back on Him? a celebration of Christ's victory In the early years of the Church over sin and death.
it flourished because its Our Sunday celebration is a members, filled with the joy of weekly celebration of the Easter the Christian message and mystery, which is at the heart of inspired by the Holy Spirit, saw the RCIA.
that it had a clear duty to share Parishes must devote time and that message of salvation with effort to make these celebrations the pagans around them. of the faith of the community.
Today we too must try to bring Then, not only the new the Good News once more into Christians, but all the members our largely pagan society. In a of the parish will be inspired to way it's more difficult because the live anew the Christian message image of Christianity as of love and salvation for all the something dull, stuffy and world.