The Association for Catechumenal Ministry

Fostering the Full Implementation of the Order of Christian Initiation

Celebrations of the Word of God Held in Connection with Catechetical Instruction

In Paragraph 81 of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, we read:

During the period of the catechumenate there should be celebrations of the word of God that accord with the liturgical season and that contribute to the instruction of the catechumens and the needs of the community.  These celebrations of the word are: first, celebrations held specially for the catechumens; second, participation in the liturgy of the word at the Sunday Mass; third, celebrations held in connection with catechetical instruction.

The third form mentioned above are "celebrations held in connection with catechetical instruction" and a helpful model is provided in Paragraphs 85-89:

86. Song: An appropriate song may be sung to open the celebration.

87. Readings and Responsorial Psalms: One or more readings from Scripture, chosen for their relevance to the formation of the catechumens, are proclaimed by a baptized member of the community.  A sung responsorial psalm should ordinarily follow each reading.

88. Homily: A brief homily that explains and applies the readings should be given.

89. Concluding Rites: The celebration of the word may conclude with a minor exorcism (no. 94) or with a blessing of the catechumens (no. 97).  When the minor exorcism is used, it may be followed by one of the blessings (no. 97) or, on occasion, by the rite of anointing (nos. 102-103).

Let's take a moment to see how an RCIA Team might implement such a "celebration of the word of God" in connection with a catechetical session on the Eucharist using Bible passages that are "relevant to the formation of the catechumens."

This sample is taken from the RCIA Catechist's Manual under the Lesson titled "The Eucharist (Lesson 1 of 2)" on pages 76-77.

Before the catechumenal session, a team member would produce copies of the lyrics of "You Satisfy the Hungry Heart" for the participants.  It would be ideal if you could bring a small stack of hymnals into the session (perhaps from your parish church).  If you have an RCIA music ministry, the team members who play an instrument would be notified ahead of time with needed sheet music.

After the group finishes "You Satisfy the Hungry Heart," a team member walks up to the front of the group and with an open Bible proclaims the reading from Exodus 16:2-16, which recounts the miraculous manna given by God to feed the Israelites in the Sinai wilderness.  This event is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist, which is the miraculous Bread from Heaven that nourishes us on our journey through the wilderness of this life.

The group then sings the responsorial psalm taken from Psalm 78, which recounts how God provided nourishment for the Israelites in the wilderness in several ways, including the miraculous water from the rock as well as the manna.  A beautifully formatted version of this psalm is available and may be printed out and distributed to the participants from the RCIA Participant's Book.

Next, if a priest or deacon is present, then they read the Gospel passage.  If no clergy are present, then a team member read the Gospel, which is John 6:48-58 - Jesus' Bread of Life Discourse wherein Jesus recounts Exodus 16 and uses this passage to teach about the gift of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Now you have laid the foundation for the catechumenal session on the Eucharist.  Next, during your catechesis, you can refer back to Exodus 16, Psalm 78, and John 6 as you witness to the reality and power of the Holy Eucharist!

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