Signing of the Senses in RCIA

Does anyone know anything about something called the ‘Signing of the Senses’ that happens during RCIA? I heard it’s a ceremony where the sponsors make the sign of the cross on various parts of the candidates’/catechumens’ bodies (over their eyes, shoulders, feet, etc.) while the priest reads some prayers. Does anyone know why this is done and it’s significance?

[quote=Elzee]Does anyone know anything about something called the ‘Signing of the Senses’ that happens during RCIA? I heard it’s a ceremony where the sponsors make the sign of the cross on various parts of the candidates’/catechumens’ bodies (over their eyes, shoulders, feet, etc.) while the priest reads some prayers. Does anyone know why this is done and it’s significance?
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I think a simple answer is that it is similar to the reason we trace a cross on our foreheads, lips, and hearts prior to hearing the Gospel. Tracing the cross on all those parts of the body is a reminder that those parts of the body are now Christ’s.

I found this article, Advice from Master Catechists, which talks about RCIA in general and has this to say about the signing of the senses:
The signing of the senses of the catechumens and candidates during the rite invites those present to ask themselves how they accept the cross of Jesus.

findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3914/is_200103/ai_n8941449

It is a beautiful ceremony and prayer; if someone has it please post it!

It consecrates all our body parts to serve our Lord, that our eyes might see Him, our ears listen to His word, our feet might take us where He wants us to go, our shoulders might bear the weight of whatever crosses come our way, etc.

Why do the sponsors do it instead of the priest?

It is a very moving ceremony where the priest prays the blessing while the candidates receive the sign of the cross on their eyes, ears, mouth, hands, etc. The cross is traced on the candidates by the sponsors who take part in the ceremony. I remember being very moved when I went through the ceremony as a candidate, and had the privilege of being my wife’s sponsor when she converted to Catholicism years later. She was moved to tears by the blessing. I think the blessing is a standard part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. It is somewhat akin to the crossing of mind, lips, and heart at the reading of the Gospel during mass.

Peace

this is an optional part of the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens (we just celebrated it this past Sunday). First the priest or deacon engages in a dialogue with the catechumens wherein they indicate their desire to become Christian to know Christ and gain eternal life. He then asks the assembly and the sponsors to pledge support for the catechumens in their journey and gives a blessing.

The sponsors and catechists (and parents if the catechumens include children or youth) are invited to make the sign of the cross on the person’s forehead. the catechist or sponsor may also make the sign on the mouth, ears, eyes, hands and feet. The prayer that accompanies each blessing consecrates each of the senses to learning and incorporating the Word of God into one’s life. After this rite, bibles are presented to the catechumens as they begin their journey of faith toward Chrisitian initiation. In cultures where actually touching the person may not be acceptable (such as some Asian countries) the signing can be done without actually touching the person, The reason the sponsors participate is that they represent the whole Church and the parish community as they hand on the faith to the catechumens.

[quote=puzzleannie]this is an optional part of the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens (we just celebrated it this past Sunday). First the priest or deacon engages in a dialogue with the catechumens wherein they indicate their desire to become Christian to know Christ and gain eternal life. He then asks the assembly and the sponsors to pledge support for the catechumens in their journey and gives a blessing.

The sponsors and catechists (and parents if the catechumens include children or youth) are invited to make the sign of the cross on the person’s forehead. the catechist or sponsor may also make the sign on the mouth, ears, eyes, hands and feet. The prayer that accompanies each blessing consecrates each of the senses to learning and incorporating the Word of God into one’s life. After this rite, bibles are presented to the catechumens as they begin their journey of faith toward Chrisitian initiation. In cultures where actually touching the person may not be acceptable (such as some Asian countries) the signing can be done without actually touching the person, The reason the sponsors participate is that they represent the whole Church and the parish community as they hand on the faith to the catechumens.
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Thank you - but now I’m confused - is it for catechumens only (those who haven’t been baptized) or candidates too (those who have been baptized in antoher church). Your comment about ‘desire to become Christian’ makes me think this ceremony is only for catechumens?

[quote=Elzee]Thank you - but now I’m confused - is it for catechumens only (those who haven’t been baptized) or candidates too (those who have been baptized in antoher church). Your comment about ‘desire to become Christian’ makes me think this ceremony is only for catechumens?
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yes, quite right, it is part of the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, who by definition are the unbaptized. There is a companion Rite of Welcoming for those baptized into other Christian faiths, which may or may not be celebrated at the same time, but preserves the distinctions, and the dignity of the baptized.

[quote=puzzleannie]yes, quite right, it is part of the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, who by definition are the unbaptized. There is a companion Rite of Welcoming for those baptized into other Christian faiths, which may or may not be celebrated at the same time, but preserves the distinctions, and the dignity of the baptized.
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Is there someplace that outlines all of these RCIA rites/ceremonies? I’m not having much luck finding somethign specific on-line? Thank you!

It is for the cathecumines and candidates both.
It happen at the scrutinities during Lent.

Liturgical Training Publications has the Ritual book, but I you don’t need it unless you are an RCIA director or catechist. Candidates, catechumens and sponsors will be instructed on the rites at the proper time. You will prepare for the rites, but not “rehearse” because the rites should be experienced for what they are. Also this book will be very confusing for someone who has not been trained in the RCIA process and catechesis because there are so many variations and options to meet specific circumstances and needs of the different people.

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