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Table of ContentsI. Structure of the Initiation of AdultsIII. Time and Place of InitiationEndnotes

II. Ministries and Offices

41. The people of God, represented by the local Church, besides attending to what is stated in the General Introduction to Christian Initiation no. 7, should always understand and show that the initiation of adults is its concern and the business of all the baptized. [16] Therefore the community must always be fully prepared in the pursuit of its apostolic vocation to give help to those who are searching for Christ. In the various circumstances of daily life, even as in the apostolate, all the followers of Christ have the obligation of spreading the faith according to their abilities. [17] Hence, the entire community must help the candidates and catechumens throughout the whole period of their initiation, during the precatechumenate, the catechumenate, and the period of postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy. In particular:

  1. During the period of evangelization and precatechumenate, the faithful should remember that for the Church and its members the supreme purpose of their apostolate is to bring Christ's message to the world by word and deed and to communicate his grace. [18] They should therefore show themselves ready to open up the spirit of the Christian community to the candidates and to welcome them into their homes, personal conversation, and some community gatherings.
  2. The faithful should seek to be present at the celebrations of the catechumenate whenever possible and should take an active part in the responses, prayers, singing, and acclamations.
  3. On the day of election, because it is a day of growth for the community, the faithful should be sure to give honest and carefully considered testimony about the catechumens.
  4. During Lent, the period of purification and enlightenment, the faithful should be present at and attentive to the rites of the scrutinies and presentations and give the catechumens the example of their own renewal in the spirit of penance, faith, and charity. At the Easter Vigil, they should attach great importance to renewing their own baptismal promises.
  5. The faithful should take part in the Masses for neophytes during the period immediately after baptism, welcome the neophytes with open arms in charity, and help them to feel more at home in the community of the baptized.

42. Any candidate seeking admission as a catechumen is accompanied by a sponsor, that is, a man or woman who has known and assisted the candidate and stands as a witness to the candidate's moral character, faith, and intention. It may happen that this sponsor is not the one who will serve as godparent for the periods of purification, enlightenment, and mystagogy; in that case, another person takes the sponsor's place in the role of godparent.

43. But on the day of election, at the celebration of the sacraments, and during the period of mystagogy the candidate is accompanied by a godparent. [19] This is a person chosen by the candidate on the basis of example, good qualities, and friendship, delegated by the local Christian community, and approved by the priest. It is the responsibility of the godparent to show the candidate how to practice the Gospel in personal and social life and to be for the candidate a bearer of Christian witness and a guardian over growth in the baptismal life. Chosen before the candidate's election, the godparent fulfills this office publicly from the day of the election, testifying to the community about the candidate. The godparents continue to be important during the time after reception of the sacraments when the neophyte needs to be assisted to remain true to the baptismal promises.

44. The bishop, [20] in person or through his delegate, sets up, regulates, and promotes the pastoral formation of catechumens and admits the candidates to their election and to the sacraments. It is to be hoped that, presiding if possible at the Lenten liturgy, he will himself celebrate the rite of election and, at the Easter Vigil, the sacraments of initiation. Finally, as part of his pastoral care, the bishop should depute catechists, truly worthy and properly prepared, to celebrate the minor exorcisms. [21]

45. Priests, besides their usual ministry exercised in any celebration of baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist, [22] have the responsibility of attending to the pastoral and personal care of the catechumens, [23] especially those who seem hesitant and weak. With the help of deacons and catechists, they are to provide instruction for the catechumens; they are also to approve the choice of godparents and gladly listen to and help them. Finally, priests should be diligent in the correct celebration and adaptation of the rites throughout the entire course of Christian initiation (see no. 67).

46. The priest who baptizes an adult or a child of catechetical age should, when the bishop is absent, also confer confirmation, unless this sacrament is to be given at another time (see no. 56). [24]

When there is a large number to be confirmed, the minister of confirmation may associate priests with himself to administer the sacrament.

These priests:

  1. must have a particular function or office in the diocese, that is, they must be vicars general, episcopal vicars or delegates, district or regional vicars, or those who by mandate of the Ordinary hold equivalent offices;
  2. or must be the parish priests (pastors) of the places where confirmation is celebrated, pastors of the places where the candidates belong, or priests who did special work in the catechetical preparation of those to be confirmed. [25]

47. Deacons, if they are available, should be ready to help. If the conference of bishops has decided in favor of having permanent deacons, it should see to it that there are enough of them to ensure that the stages, periods, and exercises of the catechumenate take place in all the places where pastoral needs require. [26]

48. Catechists have an important office for the progress of the catechumens and for the growth of the community. As often as possible, they should have an active part in the rites. When they are teaching, they should see that their instruction is filled with the spirit of the Gospel, adapted to the liturgical signs and the cycle of the Church's year, suited to the needs of the catechumens, and as far as possible enriched by local traditions. When deputed by the bishop, they may perform the minor exorcisms (see no. 44) and the blessings [27] contained in the ritual nos. 113-124.

Table of ContentsI. Structure of the Initiation of AdultsIII. Time and Place of InitiationEndnotes

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The Catholic Liturgical Library