III. Time and Place of Initiation
49. As a general rule, pastors should make use of the rite of initiation in such a way that the sacraments themselves are celebrated at the Easter Vigil and
the election takes place on the First Sunday of Lent. The rest of the rites are spaced on the basis of the arrangement already described (nos. 6-8, 14-40). For
pastoral needs of a more serious nature, however, it is lawful to arrange the schedule for the entire rite differently, as will be detailed later (nos. 58-62).
A. LAWFUL OR CUSTOMARY TIMES
50. The following should be noted about the time of celebrating the rite of entrance into the order of catechumens:
- It should not be too early, but should be delayed until the candidates, according to their own dispositions and situation, have had sufficient time to
conceive an initial faith and to show the first signs of conversion (see no. 15).
- In places where the number of candidates is smaller than usual, there should be a delay until a large enough group is formed for catechesis and the liturgical rites.
- Two dates in the year, or three if necessary, are to be fixed as normally the best times for carrying out this rite.
51. The rite of election or enrollment of names should as a rule be celebrated on the First Sunday of Lent. For convenience it may be anticipated somewhat or even celebrated during the week.
52. The scrutinies should take place on the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent, or, if necessary, on the other Sundays of Lent or even on more convenient weekdays. Three scrutinies should be celebrated. The bishop may
dispense from one of them for serious reasons or even from two in extraordinary circumstances. When, for lack of time, the election is held early, the first scrutiny is also to be held early; in this case, however, care is to be taken
not to prolong the period of purification and enlightenment beyond eight weeks.
53. By ancient usage, the presentations, since they take place after the scrutinies, are part of the same period of purification and enlightenment. They are celebrated during the week. The presentation of the creed to the catechumens
takes place during the week after the first scrutiny; the presentation of the Lord's Prayer during the week after the third scrutiny. For pastoral reasons, however, to enrich the liturgy in the period of the catechumenate, the
presentations may be transferred and celebrated during the catechumenate as a kind of "rite of passage" (see nos. 125-126).
54. On Holy Saturday, when the elect refrain from work (see no. 26) and spend their time in recollection, the various, immediately preparatory rites may be celebrated: the catechumen's recitation of the creed, the ephphetha rite, the choosing of a Christian name, and even the anointing with the oil of catechumens (see nos. 193-207).
55. The sacraments for the initiation of adults are to be celebrated at the Easter Vigil itself (see nos. 8, 49). If there is a large number of catechumens, the sacraments are given to the majority that night and may be given to the rest on days within the Easter octave, whether at the principal church or at a mission station. In this case either the Mass of the day or the ritual Mass for
Christian Initiation may be used with the readings from the Easter Vigil.
56. In certain cases, confirmation may be postponed until near the end of the period of postbaptismal catechesis, for example, Pentecost Sunday (see no. 237).
57. On all the Sundays of Easter after the first, the "Masses for neophytes" are to be celebrated. The entire community and the newly baptized with their godparents should be urged to attend (see no. 40).
B. OUTSIDE THE CUSTOMARY TIMES
58. The rite of initiation is normally arranged so that the sacraments will be celebrated during the Easter Vigil. Because of unusual circumstances and pastoral needs, however, the rite of election and the rites during the period of purification and enlightenment may be held outside Lent and the sacraments may be celebrated outside the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday. Even in ordinary
circumstances, but only for serious pastoral needs (for example, if there is a very large number of persons to be baptized), it is lawful to choose another time, especially the Easter season, to celebrate the sacraments of initiation. The program of initiation during Lent, however, must be maintained. When this is done, even though the time of its insertion into the liturgical year is changed,
the structure of the entire rite, with its properly spaced intervals, remains the same. But the following adjustments are to be made.
59. As far as possible, the sacraments of initiation are to be celebrated on Sunday, using, as occasion suggests, the Sunday Mass or the proper ritual Mass (see no. 55).
60. The rite of entrance into the order of catechumens is to take place when the time is right, as explained in no. 50.
61. The election is to be celebrated about six weeks before the sacraments of initiation so that there is sufficient time for the scrutinies and the presentations. Care should be taken that the celebration of the election does not fall on a solemnity of the liturgical year. The readings assigned in the ritual itself are to be used and the Mass texts will be those of the day or of the
ritual Mass for Election or Enrollment of Names.
62. The scrutinies should not be celebrated on solemnities, but on Sundays or even on weekdays, with the usual intervals and use of the readings given in the
ritual itself. The Mass texts will be those of the day or of the ritual Mass (see no. 374).
63. The rites should be celebrated in the places appropriate to them as indicated in the ritual. Consideration should be given to special needs that
arise in secondary stations of mission territories.