The Parish IS The Curriculum

When it comes the need to ‘run the RCIA program’ one of the questions that often gets asked is what is the best resource to use. Usually the person asking that question wishes to know which book, or series of pamphlets, or videos can best be used to pass on the knowledge of the Christian faith to those who are seeking to become Catholic.

Diana Macalintal of TeamRCIA.com suggests a different response to the question:

Because your parishioners have been washed, anointed, and clothed as priests, prophets, and kings, enlightened with the knowledge of Christ, endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and strengthened by the Eucharist to grow into the full stature of Christ for doing Christ’s mission, they are the best teachers for your catechumens and candidates. Therefore, your parish is the best “classroom” for forming adults for living a life of discipleship in Christ.

Diana Macalintal, Your Parish IS the Curriculum: RCIA in the Midst of the Community (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2018), p. 24. ISBN: 978-0-8146-4465-2.

The Vision of RCIA

If we approach the RCIA as yet one more program to implement and we delegate the implementation of that program to a small group of leaders, then we will have failed even before we begin. … the adult catechumenate changes everything. It is a paradigm shift that flows from the radical insight recovered from Vatican II that baptism matters. If that’s true, then your baptism matters. It matters most of all to the people who are seeking what baptism gives you: an intimate relationship with the living Christ active in the world. Where we find that living Christ and that relationship is in the community of Christians.

Unfortunately, that community is messy. It is imperfect, made up of imperfect people. It would be much easier, cleaner, and quicker to just leave RCIA to a small group of highly qualified Christians who meet once a week to transmit the teaching of the church to a receptive, albeit passive, group of seekers. Or maybe we could ensure that the catechumens meet only the best of Catholics among us or attend only the best of our liturgies.

Yet the Body of Christ doesn’t work that way. Only through intimate relationship with the members of the Christ’s Body will one touch and hear and see Christ at work in the world. So if you want your seekers to learn how to be the Body of Christ, they must be trained by those who are the Body of Christ: the entire Christian community.

Diana Macalintal, Your Parish IS the Curriculum: RCIA in the Midst of the Community (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2018), p. 10. ISBN: 978-0-8146-4465-2.

The Liturgy Is Fully Embodied

In stark contrast [to the “Internet of Things”], the liturgy remains a firmly embodied experience. Worship engages all the senses of our body. The liturgy employes symbols of the body and of things to invite us more deeply into the divine mystery. There is no Church, no Eucharist, without the Body of Christ – a body that is broken yet whole; messy yet blessed. In our liturgical symbolism, we continue to tell the importance of the body in a culture that imagines what is beyond it through the help of technology. Intentional attentiveness to the body in the liturgy helps to shape our digital imaginations to better discern the way forward.

Daniella Zsuapn-Jerome, “Inter mirifica Decree on the Mass Media”, in A Liturgical Companion to the Documents of the Second Vatican Council, Danielle A. Noe, ed. (Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications, 2016): p. 43. ISBN: 978-1-61671-314-0.

From Liturgy to Action in the World

Sacrosanctum Concilium‘s call for revisions in liturgical rites and texts made it easier for the Church to recognize and engage the public nature of liturgy. It also empowered the worshipping faithful to take part in efforts to reform social, economic, cultural, and political systems of society. The latter emphasis is what Gaudium et spes brought to our understanding of what being a community and being involved in public worship implies for our life and actions in the world.

Bernard Evans, “Gaudium et spes Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World”, in A Liturgical Companion to the Documents of the Second Vatican Council, Danielle A. Noe, ed. (Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications, 2016), p. 27. ISBN:978-1-61671-314-0.

The Liturgy in the Life of the Church

Whether the Council Fathers could foresee the impact of the reform of the liturgy on the life of the Church is impossible to know for certain. The liturgy is “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the fount from which all the Church’s power flows” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10). The Church’s effectiveness in teaching, evangelization, and charitable work finds its origin in the liturgy. Sacrosanctum Concilium goes on to explain that it is the liturgy that inspires, nourishes, and configures the faithful to go forth as witnesses in the world. The faithful depend on the liturgy for sustenance for their work in the world.. This is an important dimension of the Church’s relationship with the world explained more deeply in Gaudium et Spes. The Church brings to the world through her individual members an example and an instrument of healing and mercy, and those gifts are given to the faithful in part through the Sacred Liturgy.

The liturgy also expresses the nature of the Church with its structure, ministries, and parts. Through the encounter with Christ in the liturgy, the Church is built up to be what she is called to be. The nature of the Church is not only expressed – she also grows by her celebration of the sacraments. The liturgy, therefore, articulates and manifests what is expressed in Lumen Gentium.

Richard B. Hilgartner, “Sacrosanctum Concilium Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”, in A Liturgical Companion to the Documents of the Second Vatican Council, Danielle A. Noe, ed. (Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications, 2016), p. 6. ISBN: 978-1-61671-314-0.

The Inevitability of Liturgical Reform

Something interesting in a post on the PrayTellBlog today as part of its ongoing series of quotes from Pope Paul VI in preparation for his upcoming canonization.

Paul VI, asked by his philosopher friend Jean Guitton why he would not concede the 1962 missal to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and his followers who rejected the liturgical reform:

Never. This Mass … becomes the symbol of the condemnation of the council. I will not accept, under any circumstances, the condemnation of the council through a symbol. Should this exception to the liturgy of Vatican II have its way, the entire council would be shaken. And, as a consequence, the apostolic authority of the council would be shaken.

How things change…