Tag Archives: candidate

Quick Takes

Buckfast Abbey

Buckfast Abbey

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I cannot let another blog-post go past without mentioning the new School of the Annunciation. This is a wonderful initiative of the new evangelisation, much needed in this country. I am just going to quote their prayer, which is beautiful:

Mary, Mother of the New Evangelisation, as you prayed continuously with the Church at the beginning (Acts 1:14) be united with us now in prayer. Help us to return to the school of Nazareth and to echo your words in the hour of the Annunciation: “let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). Help us to rejoice in the wonder of the Incarnation and with you to treasure all these things and ponder them in our hearts (Lk 2:19). Obtain for us the courage to take our stand with you beside the Cross of your Son (Jn. 19:25) in the hour of Redemption. Guide us as we set out along all the ways of the earth to bring to our brothers and sisters the light of faith, hope and charity (Lk. 1: 39). All to the praise and adoration of the Most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit both now and for ever. Amen.

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By now, the last of the pancakes have been polished off, and Lent has truly begun. I somehow feel grateful for Lent this year. In the words of Blessed John Henry Newman,

Let not the year go round and round, without a break and interruption in its circle of pleasures.

This is the time when we refuse to accept “bread” from the devil in our wilderness, but rather, learn the words of Christ to the woman at the well: “I have food to eat of which you do not know” (John 4:32).

I read recently that the virtue of temperance (which is a virtue for all year round, not just Lent) is a memory of the taste of God – meaning we do not need to lose ourselves in other things, but know simply that God alone is enough.

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This Lent, our Bishop is offering a weekly online catechesis on the Gospels of Lent. The first one, on Jesus’ temptations in the desert, is here. There are also questions for reflection to accompany each video.

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Now is also the time of ‘Purification and Enlightenment’ in the RCIA process, when catechumens and candidates prepare for their Baptism or reception into the Church. If we are catechising or sponsoring someone this Lent, let’s offer our prayer and penance for them. How can we help them live a good Lent? Here are some ideas…

  • Do everything we can to help them prepare for a good Confession (more here) – not only is good catechesis on the sacrament vital, but also practical help – a thorough examination of conscience, talking through the steps, ensuring everything is prepared for the day of the first Confession, arranging somehow to celebrate it afterwards
  • Invite them to make a Holy Hour with you
  • Talk about choosing good spiritual reading for Lent and perhaps buy them a book… Anything by Jacques Philippe is good, e.g. Interior Freedom
  • Offer an extra mortification or penance for them each week
  • ACM offers a wonderful ‘home retreat’ for sponsors – see the Sponsors’ Handbook. Do this for yourself, and offer it for your catechumen / candidate
  • Chat about the Triduum – including all the signs, symbols, meanings – as often as you can. Get them excited…!

Happy Lent, everyone!

RCIA: Liturgical steps and discernment interviews

A while ago, I wrote about the very first stages of RCIA – how we first come in contact with an enquirer and how we need to welcome them, the first stage of the process called the precatechumenate, and the role of the sponsors.

I've included this image of St Peter's because the first time I went to Rome, my friends and I ran into the Square early in the morning - I felt like I was running into the arms of my Mother, the Church: this is what we are preparing candidates for

In our parish, we’re approaching the next stage for some of the enquirers – their first liturgical step.

RCIA is a liturgical process, because this is how we ‘enter’ into Christ – through the sacraments, which are part of the Liturgy. The liturgical component doesn’t simply come at the end, however; if you have a look at the RCIA ritual book it is full of the liturgies of RCIA (with not too much guidance on the catechesis!). One thing is clear: the liturgical ‘gateways’ are a vital part of the process.

The first one of these is the Rite of Acceptance (for catechumens) or Welcoming (for baptised candidates). It comes after a period of evangelisation, at a point when the catechumen has reached a decision that they would like to receive preparation for Baptism. Before the whole parish community, they ask from God’s Church the gift of “Faith”, professing that this is what will give them “Eternal life”. Not only do they express their commitment to the Catechumenate, but they also receive the grace in this Rite to carry it out.

I will write more on the Rite and the preparation for it, but for now I want to focus on the pastoral element that precedes this point.

During the Rite of Acceptance, the candidates are given a Bible and a crucifix to signify the life into which they are being drawn

Last week, our parish priest met individually with all the enquirers who have all spent different amounts of time in the precatechumenate. These interviews were to discern each person’s readiness to move into the Catechumenate. This journey is a very individual process: the people who will take part in the Rite of Acceptance next weekend are an extraordinarily varied group of people, all with very different needs. In each one of them, the signs of initial conversion manifest themselves very differently, which is why it’s important for the priest to meet each of them to discern their progress.

Tomorrow morning we have a mini “retreat” in preparation for the Rite which will take place on Sunday.