July 28, 2022
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA): Part 7 of 9
This article is part of a series. If you haven’t read the previous parts in the series, it would be helpful to do that before continuing on, as they are most informative if read in order. The entire series can be seen in the box on the page.
When Lent is over, what happens to the person desiring baptism, the Elect?
The Elect join us during our high holy days, this time as icons of faith alive in our midst. They worship with us on Holy Thursday, keep the fast and pray with us on Good Friday, and on Holy Saturday, have their final spiritual preparation with special prayers and blessings. They keep the fast, prayerfully preparing for sundown…and the great vigil of Easter. During that most excellent of liturgies, the Church welcomes them into the Body of Christ through the waters of Baptism, seals the Spirit’s gift through the anointing of Confirmation and then we joyfully welcome them, at last, to the Lord’s Table…and the intimacy of communion with Christ.
Are the Elect “finished” once the Easter Vigil is over?
Actually, they have just begun. Now known to us as Neophytes, those newly born into the Body of Christ, are entrusted to the community to care for and support their ongoing journey of faith. We worship with them throughout Easter, celebrating the Risen Christ in sprinkling, in Alleluia’s raised in joy, and we encourage their ongoing participation in our continuing works of charity and justice. A smaller group meets with them, to reflect on their encounters with Christ in the sacraments, and in their deeper in encounter with Christ in each communion they receive. When the 50 days of Easter are complete, the entire Christian community embraces them, now not as Inquirers or Catechumens, not as Elect…but as newborn Christians. And we return to those first practices: answering questions, welcoming then into our homes, accompanying them more deeply into parish life, praying together, helping them find a deep comfort as members of the Body of Christ at St. Agnes as we share communion with them. The Church asks us to accompany them for a year with these practices, until such time as they are fully at home among us and then we help them discern God’s call to them to minister…inside the parish or beyond it.