Friday, October 19, 2012
AND WHAT ABOUT NON CATHOLICS EXPERIENCING THE SACRAMENTALS OF THE CHURCH?
In the RCIA process, catechumens experience being prayed over during the Season of Lent in what are called the scrutinies which are penitential acts and also minor exorcisms. These are preludes to the washing away of and total forgiveness of Original and actual sin at the Easter Vigil.
At St. Joseph Church at our RCIA retreat a week prior to the Easter Vigil, we give the unbaptized an opportunity to go to "confession" if they wish although they are not allowed absolution as they are not yet baptized and baptism will actually be the absolution. One could view the option given to an unbaptized person to speak to a priest in a confessional experience and without absolution but just a blessing, not “role playing” but an experience of a form of spiritual or pastoral direction as they prepare for the Sacrament of Penance in their post-baptismal life. But again, the option to do this should be their choice and not forced upon them.
However, for the baptized candidate, I think it would be malpractice on the part of those teaching in the RCIA not to insist that the Sacrament of Penance be celebrated as a renewal of their Baptismal washing to enable them to be in a “pristine, baptismal” state of grace for Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, even if there are no mortal sins but only a confession of venial ones. Penance is not just for mortal sins but could be devotional and venial sins may be mentioned.
However, it is not role playing of the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick for a priest or lay person to pray over a sick person (catechumen or candidate) offering a blessing which might include the laying on of hands–charismatics do it all the time and sometimes they use blessed oil. It is not a sacrament nor a mocking of the sacrament but a sacramental that could be available to any catechumen or candidate.
The same for Holy Water and blessing one’s self. We cannot forbid the catechumen from using Holy Water. No they aren’t recalling their baptism but could be encouraged to use it as an anticipation of their baptism and it would clearly be seen as a sign of their desire for baptism in case of death prior to baptism.
Sometimes there is a fear of making the Sacrament of Penance more readily available to people seems contrived and based upon a prejudice toward this sacrament which surely should not exist in the Church. Again, would any of us caution people against receiving Holy Communion each time they attend Mass or daily. I hope not. And surely we shouldn’t discourage candidates and catechumens from attending daily Mass if they so desire even though they can’t receive Holy Communion yet.