PLANNING
  1. The elect, who are in final preparation for the Easter sacraments, will celebrate scrutinies on the next three Sundays. Many parishes may also have candidates for full communion with the Catholic church. If some of them will be received into the church on Easter or throughout the 50-day season, you may celebrate a special penitential rite with them today.
  2. Many experts have pointed out that candidates (those already baptized in another denomination) should not automatically be folded in with catechumens (those who are not baptized). Many of them have different needs, and they are not to be held back from full communion any longer than necessary. So, the Rite of Reception into Full Communion might be celebrated at any time of the year; it is not particularly linked to Lent or Easter.
  3. Some candidates, though already baptized, have little or no formation in Christian doctrine and living. Such people might well journey with catechumens for many months, since they need some of the same formation. When that is the case, they should still be clearly distinguished from the unbaptized, acknowledging the significance of the baptism they have already received.
  4. This might easily lead to having some candidates ready for reception as the community observes Lent and celebrates Easter. In such cases, the penitential rite would make sense on this Sunday. The rite is found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, beginning at #464.
  5. So, the elect will celebrate the scrutinies and any candidates for full communion will celebrate a penitential rite. What about everybody else? How does the rest of the assembly ritualize their conversion journey? The answer, of course, is the sacrament of reconciliation. This might be a good time to announce all the opportunities to celebrate that sacrament this Lent. Let people know when your parish will celebrate a penance service, as well as opportunities for individual celebration of the sacrament. When lisiting penance services and opportunities for confession within your own parish schedule include those of neighboring parishes, too. Some deaneries post such opportunities in the area online for anyone  to consult.
  6. Planners might review the readings and prayers that are part of the scrutinies and the penitential rite for candidates to see if they might also be used in creating the parish penance service. If your service is scheduled during the third, fourth or fifth week of Lent, the scrutiny Gospels could provide a theme, (though you would want to use the shorter form of the Gospel for a penance service). If you gather issues of concern from the community to create local adaptations of the intercessions in the scrutinies, those same concerns could shape an examination of conscience or a series of petitions during the penance service.
Adapted: LAWRENCE MICK ©2018: The pastoral/worship planning resource from 2018 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.
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