How to Celebrate the Scrutinies without Scaring the Catechumens
“How do we explain the scrutinies to the catechumens without scaring them?” That was a question we received recently at a Rites of the RCIA institute. The question stumps me a little. As I look at the structure and prayers of the rite, I don’t see anything particularly frightening. I think that if there is any fear associated with these prayers, it is perhaps because of the title (and the title of the core prayer of the rite — the exorcism).

The titles scrutiny and exorcism have been handed on to us from the ancient catechumenate of the third and fourth centuries. Some other Christian churches have changed the titles to something more modern and perhaps less fear-inducing. But I think we lose a couple of things when we do that.

Ash Wednesday FAQs
I’ve distributed ashes on Ash Wednesday a few times in my life, and it’s always a humbling experience. Yes, the ashes remind us of our mortality and dependence on God, but that’s not mostly why I feel humbled. It’s humbling for me because I get to see so many different people, with different stories and backgrounds, all coming to get smudged with dirt for different reasons.

In their faces I see glimpses of piety and holiness, fear and trepidation, giggly discomfort in some of the adolescents and stoic disinterest in some of the teens. Some people aren’t sure if they’re supposed to say anything in response (you’re not), and some don’t quite know if they’re allowed to wipe off any ash that falls on their nose (you can). But in every case, they come, young and old, those barely able to walk and babies in mothers’ arms. And God, in whatever way is needed, touches each of them through this simple act of penance. We may not understand the ritual, we might do it just out of habit. But it’s our doing of the ritual, our turning back to God, even for just a moment, that gives God the perfect opportunity to quietly, even unknowingly, draw us ever closer to him.
Gifts for you for Lent
Yes, Lent is a penitential season, but it's also a season filled with gifts and blessings. So here are two gifts just for your RCIA team!

Download them today!

What you’re saying about TeamRCIA

Dear Nick and Diana,

I wanted to share our little success story with you. Since I took over the catechumenate and we re-introduced dismissal and began emphasizing the year round, ongoing nature of the process, our adult RCIA has just boomed! I had 6 folks for a Rite of Acceptance/Welcome in September and 6 more just a couple weeks ago. 4 of those will be baptized at Easter Vigil and the others will come into full communion as we go… some before Lent, some during Easter, some whenever.

But my joy is the community’s response and growth. I wholeheartedly believe that the RCIA, implemented well, fundamentally inspires conversion in the entire community. While maturation of the catechumens and candidates is rather expected, the spiritual growth and enrichment for the sponsors who had never heard of the rite, the catechists who are blessed to interact with these amazing spiritual travelers, and even myself, allowed the grace of re-living through others my own journey is immense!

So that’s our little update. Blessings to you in the new year!

Paz y bien,

Angela Flynn
Durham, NC
RCIA resource highlight

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: Study Edition

United States Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy

Why is this book important?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the authoritative teaching of the church on the purpose and process of initiation. It is the Vatican II vision of the initiation process that answers the mandate of Jesus Christ to go and baptize.

What is in this book?
The RCIA is not a textbook or a how-to book. It is a rite, a sacrament of the church. The pastoral introduction provides the fundamental principles of the initiation process and outlines the four stages and three ritual steps of initiation.

Part I of the ritual text is the classic process of initiation for unbaptized seekers.

Part II is a collection of adaptations for baptized seekers, children, and those who are already disciples and seek full communion with the Catholic Church.

What’s the big deal?
You cannot do the RCIA without mastering the principles and processes in the rite itself. Doing the RCIA without reading it is like trying to do Hamlet without ever having read the play.

Once you understand the principles of the RCIA and begin to implement them as fully as you are able, it will change your life and the life of your parish.

Your price: $33.20
A complete catechesis for Christian life
Free sample of Faith, Life & Creed
Click button to learn more
Resources for your team
The Heart of Faith: A Field Guide for Catechumens and Candidates
Nick Wagner

Price: $12.95
Your Price: $12.30
Welcoming the New Catholic, Third Edition
Ron Lewinski

Price: $10.00
Your Price: $9.50
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Photo credits: Photo by Samule Sun | Unsplash; Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston | Flickr
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Nick Wagner

Diana Macalintal

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