Q: Greetings Paul. I hope that all is well with you. We here down under are somewhat bemused/amused by the campaign for president currently running in your country!
Two paragraphs in the RCIA have always puzzled me but I keep forgetting to ask about them. I came across them again just now so decided to go straight to the expert for help!
They are 381& 382 in the section on Preparation of Uncatechised Adults for Confirmation and Eucharist in the Australian version (my emphasis):
- 381. The period of preparation is made holy by means of liturgical celebrations. The first of these is a rite by which the adults are welcomed into the community and acknowledge themselves to be part of it because they have already been marked with the seal of baptism.
- 382. Once a rite of reception has been celebrated, these adults take part in celebrations of the word of God, both those of the entire Christian assembly and those celebrations arranged specially for the benefit of the catechumens (see nos. 81‑84).
No rite is given & it concerns me that people might use the Rite of Acceptance for catechumens which is totally inappropriate. I find the use of ‘rite of reception’ in #382 disconcerting as I think that term should be reserved for the ritual by which Christians baptised in other Churches are received into the Catholic Church.
Am I missing something (apart from some brain cells!)?
A: If you’re bemused by our presidential campaign, you are not alone! Now you know how Americans feel when we try to understand Australian Rules Football.
381 and 382 correspond to 405 and 406 in the US edition, which includes a statement that a rite for this purpose has been provided in Part II, 4A: The Rite of Welcoming the Candidates.
Both paragraphs are in a section of the RCIA that was originally composed for baptized uncatechized Catholics – not for validly baptized Christians of other denominations. The original Latin edition never included such a rite, even though the first of the paragraphs you cite does indeed refer literally in Latin to “a rite by which adults are received into the community.” It’s hard to know what they meant by it because there is no such rite in the rest of the original edition.
The second paragraph you quote is a loose translation of the original Latin, which does not say “Once a rite of reception has been celebrated.” That clause was inserted into the English translation probably in hopes of clarifying the sequence of events. But 382 (406) does not refer back to the rite mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Also in Latin, what we call the Rite of Reception for previously baptized Christians is more literally the “Rite of Admission.” Therefore, paragraph 381 (405) in Latin does not use the same terminology as what we call the Rite of Reception, even though it got translated that way into English.
As I’ve explained in my book Celebrating Initiation: A Guide for Priests, I am not particularly fond of the extra ceremonies for baptized candidates in the USA edition, including the one that our paragraph 405 refers to, the Rite of Welcoming the Candidates. If you want to do an introductory “rite” for those who are already baptized. I think that the presider can simply acknowledge their presence in the community, and exchange with them some mutual expression of intent. The simpler the better, in my opinion.
If you are missing any brain cells, they have not been discovered on the American presidential campaign trail.