The Rite of Christian Initiation includes a combination of private prayer, reflection, and discernment; small group study and faith-sharing; and public rites or rituals designed to celebrate the candidate’s progress toward initiation.
These are the principle rites celebrated during the RCIA:
The Rite of Acceptance follows the initial period of Inquiry and precedes the phase called the Catechumenate.
During the Rite of Acceptance, individuals declare their initial desire to seek initiation into the Catholic faith community. The faith community, in turn, declares its willingness to accept them as persons who intend to become its members. The local pastor is the normal presiding celebrant for the Rite of Election, which takes place in the parish church. (See Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, #41)
In order to celebrate the Rite of Acceptance, there should be evidence that the candidate has experienced growth in spiritual life and has a preliminary understanding of Christian teaching. This evidence of “first faith” and initial conversion includes:
(See Rite of Christian Intitiation of Adults, #42.)
The Rite of Election follows the Catechumenate phase and precedes the period of Enlightenment or Purification. It usually coincides with the beginning of Lent.
In the Rite of Election, individuals declare their intention to advance toward the sacraments of initiation and full participation in the Catholic faith community. The community, in turn, expresses its acceptance (election) of the individuals and its confidence that they have been chosen and accepted by God. The bishop is the normal presiding celebrant for the Rite of Election which takes place in the cathedral or at other locations designated by the bishop. (See Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, #118, 119, 121.)
The community assumes that individuals who seek to celebrate the Rite of Election have:
(See Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, #120.)
The Scrutinies and Rites of Exorcism take place during the period of Enlightenment. They usually take place during the principle Sunday Mass on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays in Lent.
The Scrutinies and Rites of Exorcism coincide with the Catechumens’ final preparation for the Rites of Initiation, which are usually celebrated at the Easter Vigil. They are designed to inspire in the Catechumens (and in the assembly) a desire for purification and redemption made available to the Church through the Paschal Mystery--Christ’s death and resurrection. The local pastor is the normal celebrant for the Scrutinies and Rites of Exorcism.
The Scrutinies and Rites of Exorcism seek to uncover and heal what is weak, defective and sinful, while strengthening what is upright, strong and good. The community assumes that individuals who participate in the Scrutinies and Rites of Exorcism:
(See Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, #141-146.)
All of the public rites and rituals are conducted in such a way that no individual will be embarrassed or intimidated. Except for the final rites of Initiation, all of the preliminary rites are conducted as a group. The names of individual Catechumens and Candidates will be announced, and you may be addressed individually by the celebrant. Responses are ritual responses, which are the same for each person, and may be made as a group or as individuals. Participants will always be informed of the appropriate ritual responses, gestures and procedures in advance.
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