Initiation is Our Job

Carmel Bulletin, 30 March 2014

We continue to celebrate the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults throughout Lent with the scrutinies that lead to the initiation of Rodger, Sally, Leoni and Domonic at the Easter Vigil.  Like any liturgical rite, there are a variety of ministerial roles that must be fulfilled to ensure its proper celebration.

In naming and commenting on the various ministerial roles in the Christian Initiation of Adults, you might expect that the priest or the bishop might be considered first.  In fact, the introduction to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) starts elsewhere, stating that:

… the people of God, as represented by the local Church, should understand and show by their concern that the initiation of adults is the responsibility of all the baptised.  Therefore the community must always be fully prepared in the pursuit of its apostolic vocation to give help to those who are searching for Christ.  (article 9)

Just as the people of God in Moses' time were led by a pillar of fire, a true contemplative today can be guided interiorly as if by a strong sweet fire. It teaches and consoles in just the way that Christ does.Through the RCIA, adults are initiated into the Church – a Church which is not merely a building or an institution, but a community of people bound together by their faith.  We share in the responsibility of leading and welcoming people into our faith community.  Christ’s command at his ascension to “make disciples of all the nations” is not one that is entrusted to a select few to carry out, but to all of us.  We are the disciples of today, who must entrust this same mission on to those who will be the disciples of tomorrow.

What’s more, it’s not enough to simply hope it will happen, or assume that by our implicit support of the need to call and form disciples that we’re doing enough.  We need to be deliberate and purposeful in our “[giving] help to those who are searching for Christ.”  As we also consider how we as a parish implement the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, we will find that this is essential to achieving the goals to Grow in Faith and to Share Our Faith.


Image Credit: Just as the people of God in Moses’ time were led by a pillar of fire, a true contemplative today can be guided interiorly as if by a strong sweet fire. It teaches and consoles in just the way that Christ does.  Elizabeth Wang, from Radiant Lightcode T-04296-CW.

Liturgy Committee Meeting Report

Carmel Bulletin, 23 March 2013

Liturgy, Our Lady of Mount Carmel WentworthvilleThe Liturgy Committee met on Tuesday evening.

This year is the first that a weekday evening Mass has been provided during the season of Lent.  The initial attendance has been promising, and feedback suggests that the Stations of the Cross preceding Mass have been well received.  Over the coming Sundays, the Scrutinies will be celebrated as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  The first will be celebrated at 9:00 am Mass this weekend.

The committee reviewed and considered the ritual preparations for the Easter season.  Sunday Masses will again be marked by the celebration of the Blessing and Sprinkling of Holy Water as a reminder of our baptism, our sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ which we particularly celebrate in the fifty days to Pentecost.  This will take the place of the Penitential Act.

Since his arrival in the parish, Fr Paul has gone to some length to ensure the more regular provision of music at our Sunday Masses.  Some Masses are blessed with music on a weekly basis, while at other times, this is a goal still to be realised.  Progress, however is being made, and we thank Fr Paul for his efforts, as well as the music ministers who have agreed to take up new or different roles in order to best meet the needs of the parish.  Parishioners are always welcome to assist as new music ministers at any of our Sunday Masses, either with singing or musical accompaniment.

Progress continues to be made within the new scope of work in the Church Renewal Process, with investigation of various matters essential to the broader master plan underway.  Both the sacramental processes for adults (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or RCIA) and children are continuing under Paola Yevenes’ leadership, with the current focus for each being Initiation at the Easter Vigil and the Sacrament of Confirmation respectively.

Comments, questions and feedback about our parish’s liturgical life and practice are always welcome.  Please send a message to the committee in writing, care of the parish office, or email litcomwenty (at) gmail (dot) com.

2/3/08 – The Presentations

In addition to the scrutinies, our elect Mechelle celebrates engages in liturgical celebrations where she is presented with the creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

The presentations take place after the celebration of the scrutinies… Thus, with the catechumenal formation of the elect completed, the Church lovingly entrusts to them the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, the ancient texts that have always been regarded as expressing the heart of the Church’s faith and prayer. These texts are presented in order to enlighten the elect.

(Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 147)

The Creed and Lord’s Prayer are texts that we can recite by heart and can even at times take for granted. Yet for the catechumens and the elect, those we introduce to the Church in the way a master tradesman introduces work and skills to an apprentice, they are not taken for granted. They can often be prayers that our catechumens and elect do not know.

It is quite important that we ritualise the sharing of these prayers with the elect. Mechelle has already been presented with the creed and will be presented with the Lord’s Prayer on Monday evening. As she becomes fully initiated into the Catholic Church, she will learn these prayers and commit them to her heart and mind through regular recitation with the rest of the assembly at Mass.

Yet these presentations lead the elect once again to the Easter Vigil. The elect will be called upon to profess their faith in order to declare their readiness for baptism. At the Easter Vigil, before receiving communion for the first time, they join the assembly in praying the Lord’s Prayer. Let us pray that Mechelle may have the courage to profess her faith and pray the words Jesus taught us on the most holy night on which she will be initiated into our community and Church.

24/2/08 – The Scrutiny

This week, as part of the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, we celebrate with Mechelle the first of three scrutinies at our Vigil Mass.

The scrutinies, which are solemnly celebrated on Sundays and are reinforced by an exorcism, are rites for self-searching and repentance and have above all a spiritual purpose.  The scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong and good…

(Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 141)

Talk of scrutinies and exorcisms can be unfamiliar and even daunting to some people; those who have not experienced them may think them to be the stuff of horror movie scripts.  But such is not the case.

As the quote from the RCIA states above, the scrutiny gives ritual expression to what this Lenten period of purification and enlightenment is all about.  For the elect, it is a period of retreat, of the kind of self-searching that Jesus undertook whilst in the desert.  We hope, and we pray that Mechelle and all the elect in other parishes may be strengthened in their faith and their resolve to be initiated into the Catholic Church.

The prayer of exorcism, which follows the intercessions for the elect in the scrutiny, calls on God to free the elect from sin and to guide them in the path of goodness, honesty, integrity and peace.  In this time of commitment to following in the way of Christ, we pray that the elect may turn way from those things that are not of Christ.

The prayer texts are closely related to the gospel readings for each week.  These gospels bear important baptismal themes as we approach Easter.  This week, Jesus promises the Samaritan woman the gift of life-giving water which will quench her thirst for all time to come.

Take a look at the Journey in Faith notice board in the Parish Centre today and take a card.  Pray for Mechelle as she approaches her Christian Initiation.

17/2/08 – Rite of Election

Last Sunday, a group from our parish accompanied Mechelle, then our catechumen preparing for initation, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Mechelle, with many others across the diocese, continued her journey towards initiation through the celebration of the Rite of Election.

At this second step, on the basis of the testimony of godparents and catechists and of the catechumens’ reaffirmation of their intention, the Church judges their state of readiness and decides on their advancement toward the sacraments of initiation. Thus the Church makes its “election,” that is, the choice of admission of those catechumens who have the dispositions that make them fit to take part, at the next major celebration, in the sacraments of initiation.

(Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 119)

The rite of election was Mechelle’s second step towards initiation into the Church; the first being her acceptance into the catechumenate last year. As the excerpt from the RCIA document suggests, this rite has similar features to others in the journey towards initiation:

  1. The Word of God is proclaimed. The Word of God is central to the initiation journey. It teaches catechumens in the way of Christ and draws them into deeper conversion.
  2. The godparents affirm the faith of the catechumens. The godparents and sponsors give witness and testimony to the conversion and commitment of those in their care, answering the questions put forward to them, in this case, by Bishop Manning.
  3. The assembly pledges its support. The assembly, having listened to the testimony of the godparents and sponsors, commits itself to supporting the catechumens in faith, prayer and example
  4. The catechumens commit themselves to continuing their faith journey. They accept the bishop’s invitation to enter fully into the life of the Church through sacramental initiation, by their verbal response, and by offering their name to the bishop in the Book of the Elect.

The Bishop, on behalf of the Church in the Diocese of Parramatta, then admits the catechumens to the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. He declares them to be members of the elect; they are no longer catechumens, for that period has ended. Now elected, Mechelle and the other elect in our diocese enter into the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, the intense period of preparation for sacramental initiation.