Sacraments of Initiation
Part 1 Introduction

Chapter i12 Introduction
12:414 Sacraments of Initiation
Spring 2012

Introduction to the Course

Notes on the Reading Assignments

Additional Resources

Notes on Course Method

Notes on the Written Assignments

Notes on the Discussion Postings

Assignment 1
Assignment 2
Assignment 3

Assignment 4
Assignment 5
Assignment 6
Assignment 7
Assignment 8

If you have previously viewed this page, I suggest that you click the refresh button on your web browser so that you are certain that you are viewing the most recent edition of this page.  I also suggest that during the course you refer to this page online rather than print a copy of it at the beginning of the course because I will update it as needed.

 

Introduction to the Course

Before studying this chapter -- i12Introduction -- review the more general material which pertain to this course which I have placed in Chapter d11 General Introduction to Fr. Tom's Courses and Teaching Method

 

Osborn"  stop

Iceberg Issues

e.g.  Scripture:  are the words in red all from Jesus

Who are the first historical persons in the Bible?

Can saints and scholars and "fathers of the Church" be wrong?

How does truth progress in the Church?

 

Is your iceberg primarily nouns or verbs?  Comfortable with process?  Journey? 

or with facts / rules / definitions?

 

 

 Sacraments of Initiation play a key role, not only in our ministry, but in our own personal spirituality.  I am looking forward to discussing these sacraments with you.  It looks like there will ten participants and myself: a large enough number for a variety of ministerial experiences and opinions and yet not so many that everyone will not get the opportunity to be heard. 

 

Several of the principal authors of the current Roman Catholic rites for initiation were among my professors when I was a student in Paris, years ago.  And, among the rituals which were revised following the Second Vatican Council, the rituals for initiation are among the most widely implemented and, I believe, among the most widely accepted. 

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Notes on the Reading Assignments

1.  [Johnson]  Maxwell Johnson. The Rites of Christian Initiation:  Their Evolution and Interpretation  (Revised and Expanded edition).   A Pueblo Book Published by the Liturgical Press, 2007.    ISBN 13:978-0-8146-6215-1. (Note:  be sure you purchase the 2007 edition of this text. 

 Assignments and page numbers refer only to the 2007 edition.)  This is our principle text for the history of Christian initiation.  Maxwell Johnson, an outstanding liturgical scholar and an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is professor of liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. He has published in Worship, and he is the editor of and contributor to Living Water, Sealing Spirit:  Readings on Christian Initiation (The Liturgical Press, 1995) which is a companion volume to the book we are using as a text.  (I highly recommend it for those wish to explore deeper into the sacraments of initiation.) 

2.  [The Rites]  The Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume I (Third edition). Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1990. ISBN 0-916134-15-6.  

There are five "general introductions" which contain the current theology regarding Christian Initiation.  These five documents are key to understanding the sacraments. 

The General Introduction to the Revised Rites of Initiation.  Any official edition; for example: The Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume I (Third edition). Collegeville, pp 3-2.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  Any official edition; for example: The Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume I (Third edition). Collegeville, pp 29-340.

The National Statutes for the Catechumenate.  Any official edition; for example: The Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume I (Third edition). Collegeville, pp 341-356. 

The Rite of Baptism for Children. Any official edition; for example: The Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume I (Third edition). Collegeville, pp 361-466.

The Rite of Confirmation. Any official edition; for example: The Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume I (Third edition). Collegeville, pp 472-515.

3.  Nick Wagner:  The Way of Faith:  A Field Guide for the RCIA Process.  Twenty-Third Publications, 2008.    ISBN 978-1-58595-710-1

Additional bibliography on Initiation can be found at Chapter i17 Bibliography on Initiation  and a more general bibliography on the liturgy and sacraments in general can be found at Chapter d17 Bibliography    I would appreciate your suggestions to make these resources increasingly useful for parish ministry.

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Additional Resources

Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Second Edition) Washington D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 2000. ISBN 1-57455-109-4. "Part Two: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Section One, Chapter One: The Paschal Mystery in the Age of the Church," nn 1066-1134; "Chapter Two: The Sacramental Celebration of the Paschal Mystery," nn 1135-1209. "Section Two:  The Seven Sacraments of the Church Chapter One:  The Sacraments of Christian Initiation," nn 1210-1212. "Article One:  The Sacrament of Baptism," nn 1213-1284.  "Article Two:  The Sacrament of Conformation," nn1285-1321.  "Article Three:  The Sacrament of the Eucharist," nn 1322-1419. (= CCC)  (Basic Catholic doctrine which is presumed as you start this graduate level course.)

Code of Canon Law, "Book IV: The Sanctifying Function of the Church," canons 834-839; "Part I: The Sacraments," canons 840-848; "Title I: Baptism," canons 849-878.  "Title Two:  The Sacrament of Confirmation," canons 879-896.  "Title Three:  The Most Holy Eucharist," canons 897-958.  See Also CLSA New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (Paulist Press, 2000).  Pages 995-1137.  (Contains practical legislation for dealing with the pastoral issues that arise from the theology we are studying during the course.)

USCCB.  Receive the Gift:  The Age of Confirmation, A Resource Guide for Bishops.  USCCB Publications, 2004.  Publication number 5-664, 24 pgs.

Paul Turner. "The Double Meaning of Initiation" in Theological Expression." [Extract from "Imaginer la théologie catholique", Permanence et transformations de la foi en attendant Jésus-Christ: Mélanges offerts à Ghislain Lafont. Ed. Jeremy Driscoll Studia Anselmiana 129 Rome: Centro Studi Sant’ Anselmo: 2000. Pp. 487-499] http://www.paulturner.org/initiation.htm

Kenan B. Osborne, O.F.M. Christian Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist. New York: Paulist Press, 1987. ISBN 0-8091-2886-1. (Very good book.  Clear and to the point.  In the past I have used this as a text but for a while it was out of print.  It is now [2005] available once again.  Great summaries at the end of each chapter.  Osborne is a well recognized Catholic theologian.)

Joseph Martos. Doors to the Sacred:  A Historical Introduction To Sacraments In The Catholic Church.  (Revised and Updated Edition). Liguori MO: Triumph Books, 2001.   ISBN 0-7648-0718-8.  (Basic undergraduate sacramental theology text.  Accurate material in easy to read format.)

Maxwell L. Johnson, Editor. Living Water, Sealing Spirit: Readings on Christian Initiation. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8146-6140-8. $27.95.  Collection of essays by key contemporary authors.  Formerly, I used this book as the basic text for this course.)

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Notes on Course Method

n addition to the readings from the text books listed in the syllabus for this module, I suggest that you read the following pages of www.tomrichstatter.org

 

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Notes on the Written Assignments

I realize that several of the topics for the assignments for this course are broad and complex enough for the concluding 30 page paper for the MTS degree!    The purpose of the assignment is not to solve the problem but to demonstrate that you know what are the key issues and what approaches are being offered today.

footnotes

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Notes on the Discussion Postings

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Assignment 1

Post a "schedule" for a parish preparation program for the RCIA.  --  Most parishes in the United States follow a "school year" schedule for the RCIA.  The meetings begin in the fall; towards the end of  November the Inquirers become Catechumens; on the first Sunday of Lent the Catechumens become the Elect; they receive the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil; and the period of Mystagogia corresponds to the Fifty Days of Easter.

Take a calendar for 2012-2013 and map out a schedule of events (rituals, prayers, instructions).  If there is to be one meeting for instruction each week, what would be the topics of these meetings?   If you are currently in charge of a program, you can submit what you are actually doing.  If not, you might want to talk to the DRE in your parish. 

Remember this is merely a "schedule" and not a detailed plan.  The posting is to be only about one page long -- or two at the very most. 

The point of the assignment is to get everyone thinking in a concrete manner about these rituals.  The hard part is deciding what to present during the information sessions.  You will be able to learn a lot about the other participants in the class by seeing what topics they select.  It might even give you a peak under their iceberg!

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Assignment 2

Using the ten periods of the "historical grid" present a one page summary of the key moments in the history of Christian Initiation, i.e. describe briefly what are the most characteristic features (theologically and liturgically) of the rites for receiving a non-baptized adult into the Roman Rite Church during each the ten periods. 

The difficult part of this assignment is deciding what events are truly the most important.  It would be easy just to copy Johnson's book;  the difficult part is knowing what Johnson says and picking out the most significant events.  Remember, your posting, if printed in normal 12 pt type, should fit on one page so that we can lay all ten side by side and compare them during the next class meeting.  Focus on content; don't worry about formatting in boxes, etc. 

Assignment 3

What can we learn from the diverse history of the sacraments of Christian Initiation? 

Many Catholics of my generation  learned that the sacraments were "outward signs, instituted by Christ, to give grace."  And that implied that Jesus instituted them just as we have them now.   Does the history of the rituals indicate that everything is relative?  What was it that "Christ instituted"?  (E.g. did Christ institute Confirmation?  Is Conformation necessary for salvation?) 

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Assignment 4

Describe "baptismal spirituality"

What is "spirituality?"  How does the Holy Spirit received in baptism influence my day to day life decisions. What difference does my baptism make in my daily living. When the "rubber hits the road" (spiritual life / daily decisions) how does baptism influence my choices. In your answer I am looking for an explanation of "spirituality" that is easily understandable by a catechumen or a ordinary Christian and how Baptism affects that spirituality.  (After reading your essay I should have insight into how Baptismal spirituality is different from, for example, a Buddhist spirituality.) -- And if you really want to challenge yourself: try to be a little like Jesus and talk in terms of love and invitation and welcome. Just this once abandon all appeals to authority and "have to or else" and "Church teaches and you have to believe it even if it doesn't make any sense" and write a positive essay without any reference to sin, suffering, hell, and all the other stuff we have spent the whole semester discussing. This paper is not about head; it is about heart (Spirit).

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Assignment 5

Discuss:  The RCIA is only for Converts. 

This seems to be the clear teaching of the Church.  Yet many Baptized Christians are "put through" the RCIA.  Why?  What is to be done? 

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Assignment 6

Discuss:  Eucharist as the culmination of Christian Initiation. 

If there is "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" and if "Eucharist is the culmination of Christian Initiation" why is there not "one Confirmation" and "one Eucharist"?  Why are baptized infants refused communion?  If there is "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" and if "Eucharist is the culmination of Christian Initiation" why is there not "one Confirmation" and "one Eucharist"?  

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Assignment 7

Summarize the contemporary theological discussion regarding when, if, and which, infants should celebrate the initiation sacraments. 

How has our understanding of the Bible, and our understanding of God, influenced this issue?  Is it best to wait and let catechesis precede initiation?    Are all cases similar?  e.g. infants of practicing Catholics and infants of non believing parents; infants of single parents; unmarried parents, gay parents, Muslim parents....  If we are saved by faith and baptism, how can baptism work when there is no faith?

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Assignment 8

Discuss the proper sequence of the Initiation Sacraments. (List the issues involved; choose a solution and defend it.) 

Until recently, Confirmation has always preceded Eucharist, the culmination of the Initiation Sacraments.  The RCIA restores this sequence for everyone except those who are baptized in infancy.   Some bishops are restoring the sequence.  What are the issues involved?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?  What are the "deeper" theological presuppositions of the various solutions? 

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/27/12 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org