Q: Could you outline for us how we would initiate candidates and the elect at the Pentecost Vigil or on Pentecost Sunday during the pandemic?
A: Here are some guidelines for those who would like to initiate at Pentecost. They apply to most any other day, too.
The books needed are the Roman Missal and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
For the Roman Missal:
* Use the presidential prayers assigned for Pentecost.
* For the eucharistic prayer, add the proper intercessions from the Ritual Mass for the Conferral of Baptism. The presidential prayers of that mass may not be used on Pentecost, but the insertions do apply. Note that Prayer I has two of them, and it is the only one that explicitly calls for the presider to read aloud the names of the godparents.
* Be cautious about consulting Part III of the Easter Vigil in the missal. It incorporates much of the RCIA, but it includes some items that pertain only to the Vigil, such as carrying the paschal candle in procession during the Litany of the Saints. The missal has a revised translation and some helpful notes about the role of the deacon and the incorporation of infants among those to be baptized. But otherwise, the entire section has been written specifically for the Easter Vigil.
* In my view, the faithful DO renew their baptism promises at this mass because the initiation takes place on a Sunday and the liturgy has to account for the Creed. (When initiating on a weekday, in my view, the people do not renew their promises.) However, because Pentecost is a Sunday apart from the Easter Vigil, the people do not hold lighted candles.
For the RCIA:
* Use the appropriate section of the book. If you have only elect, start at RCIA 218. If you have only candidates for reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church, start at RCIA 487. If you have both, then start at 566.
* Please note RCIA 218 carries a heading that assigns the ritual to the Easter Vigil. That is an erroneous insertion into the English translation. Theeditio typica treats it as the ceremony you follow for adult initiation, no matter what day you do it.
* A priest who conducts these rites has the faculty to confirm and must do so (canon 885 §2). Our diocese has not made any decision to the contrary, but FYI, the Italian bishops conference is deferring all confirmations at this time because the administration of this sacrament requires the presider to use his thumb to touch the forehead of the candidate with chrism.
* Easily overlooked, if the ceremonies included the baptism of the elect, the presider improvises a final catechesis on the eucharist just before saying “This is the Lamb of God” (RCIA 243).