Preparing for the Rite of Election or Call to Continuing Conversion
What is expected of candidates and catechumens before they enter into the Rite of Election or Call to Continuing Conversion that takes place at the beginning of Lent? See RCIA 120 and 538–542
Participants should be encouraged to look into their hearts to see how God has spoken to them and how they have responded. For example, the desire for Baptism should become increasingly apparent for catechumens, and the desire to complete their initiation or enter in to full communion should similarly grow for candidates. This desire should not be presumed and participants should be reminded that to be baptized or to become members of the Church is an entirely free decision.
Catechumens and candidates should receive every possible assistance by:
• Receiving frequent blessings, anointings, and minor exorcisms (for catechumens) prescribed for them according the RCIA process.
• Having an experience of Christian witness and community by taking advantage of opportunities to meet families and other members of the parish at various events.
• Being well accompanied; that is - prayed for, offered good example; given love, support and guidance; as well as assisted in times of difficulty.
• Developing a relationship of trust and familiarity with their godparent(s) or sponsor(s) to assist them with any questions, struggles, being available to them, modeling the Catholic way of life.
Regarding Marriage Issues
Also, please ensure that all marriage issues with every catechumen and candidate have been discussed with the pastor, and if necessary, submitted to the Archdiocesan tribunal if not already done so, as soon as possible. Please do not delay this process. If a catechumen or candidate is in a marriage requiring this adjudication and a decision has not yet been issued by the Archdiocesan Tribunal, this catechumen or candidate may not participate in the Rite of Election/Call to Continuing Conversion. They must also be informed that if the decision from the Archdiocesan Tribunal has not been reached before Easter Vigil, they are ineligible to receive the Sacraments of Initiation or be received into the Church. If and when a favorable decision is given by the Tribunal, the Sacraments of Initiation may then be imparted. Please do not postpone this important conversation with the catechumens and candidates whom this affects.
Requirements for Godparents and Sponsors
The requirements for godparents and sponsors are as follows:
(1) They must be at least sixteen years of age.
(2) They must have already received all three sacraments of initiation.
(3) They must be living according to the Catholic faith.
(4) If married, they must be married in the Catholic Church.
(5) Only one godparent or sponsor is necessary, but if there are to be two, they must be one of each sex.
Fulfilling the above requirements, a brother or sister can serve as a godparent or sponsor. The mother, father, or step-parent of the one to be baptized or confirmed cannot serve as their godparent or sponsor.
All Candidates for Full Communion to be received into the Church at Easter Vigil should be instructed in and provided the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, ideally as part of the Preparation Rites for Holy Saturday. All Catechumens should also be instructed regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Although they will not receive this sacrament before Easter Vigil, they, along with the Candidates, should be encouraged to receive and provided the opportunity to receive Reconciliation during the Mystagogy Period before Pentecost Sunday.
Parish Celebration for Sending Catechumens for Election and Candidates for Recognition by the Bishop
This optional rite is provided for parishes whose catechumens will celebrate their election and whose adult candidates for Confirmation and Eucharist or reception into the full communion the Catholic Church will celebrate their recognition … with the bishop. (RCIA 530)
This rite offers the local community the opportunity to express its support for the catechumens and candidates, sending them forth to the celebration of election assured of the parish’s care and encouragement.
The rite is celebrated just after the homily at the parish at a Mass (or celebration of the Word of God) before the rite election of election with the bishop. In the catechesis of the community by the celebrant and in the celebration of these rites, care must be taken to maintain the distinction between the catechumens and the baptized candidates (RCIA 533–535).
Sponsors and Godparents (or a proxy) are important and necessary participants in this rite.
The combined rite of sending for catechumens and candidates is found at RCIA 536–546.
If there are only catechumens to be sent for election, the corresponding rite can be found at RCIA 106–117.
If there are only candidates, then RCIA 540–546 is to be adapted to apply to them.
Since the Rite of Sending includes intercessions for the catechumens and candidates, the rubrics include this note:
When the Eucharist is to follow, intercessory prayer is resumed with the usual general intercessions for the needs of the Church and the whole world; then, if required, the profession of faith is said. But for pastoral reasons these general intercessions and the profession of faith may be omitted. The Liturgy of the Eucharist then begins as usual with the preparation of the gifts (RCIA 546).