RCIA Candidates leaving mass and not getting graces of final blessing

This has not happened to me yet but when i went to the first mass with my Catholic Girlfriend at her church the rcia candiates left after the homily and didn’t say the creed. They went to do what they call “break open the word” and the session ended when mass ended i looked this up on that particular parrishes webiste and i was just wondering if they leave and aren’t present till the end they are missing the graces of the final blessing. So this leaves me with 2 questions. why would they do that and it makes me think the graces of the final blessing do not apply to non catholics ? can someone shed some light on this for me please ?

Its useless to attend Mass if they leave in the middle of it. Mass is the highest form of worship.

That’s the way they do it in our Parish too! I was in RCIA years ago, and that’s the way they did it then too. We would leave Mass and go into another room in the church and discuss the Gospel. I really disliked marching out in front of the whole congregation as they sang, “Do not be afraid I am with you, I have called you each by name, come and follow me, I will bring you home, I love you and you are mine.” I personally think candidates and catechumens should attend the entire Mass, and THEN go learn the catechism. But nobody asked me so…:shrug:

What you witnessed was probably the ancient practice of “dismissal” during the scrutinies. Your question though is a good one which would be better answered by an apologetic…I think once you get an answer from someone more articulate than me and the first two posters may find out they are being hasty in their assessment and may understand the ritual.

We did the same thing in RCIA a few years back. It goes back to an older tradition in which the Liturgy of the Word was called the Mass of the Catechumens, or the part of the Mass which the unbaptized/non-Catholics were allowed to attend. The Liturgy of the Eucharist was called the Liturgy of the Faithful, and thus was only appropriate for the Faithful. Today, there is no opposition to non-Catholics assisting at the entire Mass, although they are still not permitted to receive Communion.

And to the comment that it’s useless to leave Mass half-way through: given the above explanation, that’s not true. For full Catholics, it does take away from the full spiritual benefits if one leaves Mass half-way through intentionally. As non-Catholics cannot receive Communion (the source and summit of the Mass and of Catholic Christian worship), the rest of the Mass would be dedicated toward prayer. Thus many parishes move this prayer to a separate area and then direct it towards the spiritual development of those in RCIA. The blessings that the candidates and catechumens receive through the various Rites of RCIA more than “make up” for the blessing that they may “miss” at the end of Mass.

So technically candidates (i.e. baptized Christians) should not be dismissed. Catechumen can be dismissed as they have not joined the body of Christ, but dismissing those already claimed by Christ is offensive to their state as members of the universal church. Despite that most parishes treat candidates and catechumen the same when it comes to dismissals. It one of the reasons I avoid the masses with RCIA candidates.

That is the traditional way and it is no harm to do it today. The Liturgy of the Word was originally called The Liturgy of the Catechumens where all are present, Christians and Catechumens alike. Then prior to Liturgy of the Faithful which is today called The Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Catechumens were dismissed. In the Byzantine Rite, because we still use the same Liturgy from the 4th century, we still have the dismissal text and is still uttered by the priest and/or deacon during Liturgy in whole or in part. Although in some cases there are not actual dismissal. In our case the priest just sayd, “the doors! the doors! Let us be attentive.” This traditionally conveys a command to the subdeacons to go around the church, ensure all the non-baptized have left, and the doors are closed. That is all we retain. But there are additional prayers that leads to the catechumens being dismissed. After a short Litany of the Catechumens, the deacon or priest would say, “All who are catchumens, leave. Let none of the catechumens remain.”

Well, unless you have been formally accepted into the Church, you are a catechumen.

That’s very true. My parish is fairly large, over 1000 families, so we DO dismiss only the catechumens. I would assume that some parishes dismiss both because the smaller size would mean fewer catechumens and thus a potentially less vibrant and formative experience without the addition of candidates.

I’m not Catholic, but this is certainly an ancient custom, in both the East and the West. In the early Church the service was divided into two sections, the Liturgy of the Catechumens (ending shortly after the homily), and the Liturgy of the Faithful.
Anyone was welcome to attend the Liturgy of the Catechumens, but those who were not members of the community were expected to leave as soon as it was over, in many Orthodox Churches the announcement is still made in the middle of the service directing them to leave (though it is not expected that they will).

The reason for this is that everything after the homily, even up to today, is meant for the faithful. The Peace, the Eucharist, even the blessings, are there for the faithful, not for inquirers.

I’m personally not a fan of this practice, and I’ve heard at least one story of someone who felt slighted by the Catholic Church because of a parish which practiced it in an extreme way, but it certainly does have ancient precedent.

The ancient practice was that those outside of the Communion for any reason (excommunication, penance, or simply not yet joined, etc.) were dismissed. Being baptized wasn’t enough. If you weren’t allowed the Eucharist, you weren’t allowed to be there.

In the Roman Catholic faith, one can only be a catechumen if he or she is not Christian, i.e. not having received a valid baptism. Those who were validly baptized in other Christian denominations we accept to be brothers and sisters in Christ, so they are not called catechumens, but candidates, as they are candidates for the other two Sacraments of Initiation.

Anyway, i dont know much about RCIA, here in the Philippines we dont have that. We simply call it Catechism class.

Actually catechumen are unbaptized. Those already baptized are candidates for reception into full comunion. The rite of Christian initiation for adults (aka RCIA) is pretty specific that these two groups be treated separately and their dignity as part of the church is to be respected.

Catechumen were separated before the creed because they would not be professing the faith. Those who are baptized presumably do hold the faith as stated in the Nicean Creed and therefore are counted as part of the faithful.

Actually the parish I started RCIA in had about 7000 members with a class of about 30 catechumen and 85 candidates. All 115 were dismissed. When they stated they would present all with the Creed and a Bible was when I left. Those rites are specifically called out as being inappropriate to candidates.

A difference in definition between East and West, I suppose. The word itself means “Instructed”, and was traditionally used to refer to any adults in the process of joining.

Perhaps in the Eastern churches, but in the Latin church as far as I know it was based on the profession of faith. Remember most people did not receive the Eucharist on a regular basis so belief in the articles of the creed was the definition of the faithful.

Noooo, catechumens were dismissed before the Creed for reasons of operational security.

Seriously. Read the transcripts of St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s RCIA classes right before Easter and right after.

First, there’s a warning not to let people who aren’t members of the Church read this work, and to keep your big fat mouth shut about it.

Then St. Cyril warns the catechumens not to be trying to get Catholic so you can get magical witchcraft powers or whatever other rumors were going around. (This was not long after Catholicism became legal.) Then he starts to reveal the amazing secret teachings of the Church, most of which the catechumens don’t know. Like the Creed, which they are solemnly warned not to go repeating to non-Christians.

All they know is the readings, basically.

Then they go to Easter Vigil, still not knowing what a Mass really consists of, receive the Sacraments of Initiation as a total surprise, and have to go to classes to find out what the heck just happened to them – still being warned not to talk about secret stuff like Baptism and Communion and the Lord’s Prayer.

Now, non-Catholics do have valid Baptisms, but they aren’t Confirmed and they haven’t received Communion. So unless they were raised in Catholic families, they probably would have fallen under the whole operational security dealie in the early Church. (And yeah, the whole “their parents were involved in a heretical or schismatic Christian group” would not have been a plus, back then.)

I don’t think you need to be quite that authentic… but it’s certainly true that the Catholic Mass is not the same as liturgies in most liturgical Christian denominations, much less most non-liturgical ones. So even most Christians need to learn the Catholic way of doing things. But of course, priests and RCIA people should be looking out for individual needs, not just being cookie cutter.

If RCIA people are seriously worried about not receiving the graces of the final blessing, they can always come early and catch the end of the previous Mass, or go to Mass on Saturday or another Mass on Sunday for the uninterrupted experience.

Remember that Catechumens aren’t just the unbaptized, but those also receiving instruction and those who have fully accepted the Christian faith. They were dismissed in Church because unbelievers are not supposed to witness the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. So does a validly baptized Evangelical accept the mystery of the Holy Eucharist? So aside form valid baptism, they really do not have any different from pagans who have not accepted the Sacred Mysteries of the Church. So baptism isn’t all there is to it.

Most likely that’s the case. :slight_smile:

But as regards the appropriateness of dismissing Candidates, I bet the lack of consensus is due - as with most other issues - to poor catechesis in the past few decades. It does seem entirely inappropriate to dismiss them, but as I said, I’d like to think that at least some parishes have a good reason for dismissing both.

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