Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Final Journey to Easter

During the next three weeks, the Church provides options for Mass, for those who are preparing for baptism at Easter. These are called "the scrutinies," and I know some don't care for them.

Here's how it works, in case you're unfamiliar--or maybe you've seen something other than this.

The readings are from "year A"--which was last year--so they aren't the same for this Mass as those used at all other Masses this weekend (same next weekend and the onee after). The Gospels are taken from John, and they are longer -- although an abbreviated lection can be used. This week, it was "the woman at the well"; next week, "the man born blind"; and then, "Lazarus raised from the dead." The Mass prayers are also different. Everything emphasizes preparation for the Easter sacraments.

In my homily I talked about the water having a double-symbolism of baptism and the Holy Spirit, and talked both about the thirst the catechumens have for the Holy Spirit, and the wonderful gift each of us has in our baptism. I also mentioned how much I look forward every year to giving this gift at the Vigil, and I invited everyone to take part.

After the homily, the catechumens and their sponsors are called forward; I invite them to kneel, we offer our prayers of the faithful, and then I pray a prayer over them called an "exorcism" (but I don't tell them that, since that might sound a little scary); it is about protection from evil, recognizing that the evil one would like to derail them. After that, I impose hands silently on them, and then dismiss them for reflection on the Word of God. The Creed follows, and then the rest of Mass.

I used the Roman Canon, in particular because there is an option for prayers to be inserted for the godparents, and those to be baptized.

The only other thing you might experience is two sets of intercessions--one for the catechumens, and then the regular ones; but I exercise the option of combining them.

I like this because it gives an opportunity to focus on the sacraments and also invite everyone to be aware of, and pray for, those entering the Church; it reminds us of our mission to share the Gospel. On the other hand, I don't like that the folks at that Mass didn't hear the other readings.


Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Out of curiosity, Father, is it optional that these rites for the catechumens (Scrutinies, etc.) take the place of the Creed? They always seem to at my parish -- that is, they supplant the Creed -- but you mentioned that after the dismissal, the Creed followed.

Fr Martin Fox said...


If memory serves, the Ritual has "for pastoral reasons the Creed may be omitted" verbiage; but it's been awhile since I checked that.

In my parishes, I see no justification for such an option; it came up in my prior assignment, where the parish was large, the Masses were 90 minutes apart, and we had a legitimate concern about one Mass running into the other. Also, I wasn't pastor, there, so it wasn't my place to perhaps do other things to solve the problem.

I suspect some find it awkward to do the petitions first, then the Creed, but it seems to work fine in my parishes; I just explain it to the reader before Mass.

Other than that--and the time issue--I see no reason to omit the Creed.

Greta said...

Have a hard time understanding why eliminating the creed makes a difference. What does it take, about about 45 seconds?

I have another question. If someone wants to enter the Catholic Church, do we only baptise once a year for new Catholic adults and are they required to go through the RCIA which seems to be only offered in once session a year. This person is pretty amazing in how much he has studied the church on his own according to a friend who asked me. I was not sure so am looking into it but thought I would ask you Father. This is a very important decision and he has been working toward it for two years.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Generally, yes, adults are baptized only at the Vigil. Exceptions can be allowed, for danger of death situations, maybe other reasons I'm not aware of.

RCIA is not only for learning the teachings of the faith, but also learning how Catholics pray and getting a sense of the Catholic way of doing everything.