July 19, 2020
Among the reasons for the various reforms initiated by Vatican II was a desire to return to the early Christian sources of Liturgy and the Sacramental life of the Church as well as emphasize the communal nature of the mature Christian’s faith journey. It seemed that, over the course of centuries, the rich symbolism that was so much a part of Catholic faith and practice became obscured either by circumstance or the loss of its original meaning.
This was especially true regarding the Christian Initiation of Adults. In the Early Church, the reception and Christian Initiation of Adults on the Vigil of Easter was a common occurrence. Taken very seriously, the process by which a person became Christian consisted of several stages in which he/she was both instructed in the doctrines & nurtured in the faith they were about to embrace by established members of the community. Several ancient versions of the instructions given to these catechumens are still among us today. Among the most famous are the Catecheses by St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
With the passage of time; however, certain rites of the Catholic church began to be celebrated with individual households rather than with the whole community being present. This was especially the case with sacraments such as Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, and Baptism of both Adults and Children. In the case of the Christian Initiation of Adults, the ceremonies were generally performed in a very private manner with only the catechumen and his or her sponsor present with the priest. Only Baptism was administered with a profession of the Catholic faith.
Realizing the importance of what was lost, Vatican II restored both the communal nature of Christian Initiation and the administration of the 3 sacraments that it comprises; namely Baptism, Confirmation, & Eucharist. Also, the Easter Vigil was reinstated as the proper time for such Initiation to take place.
Here at Assumption Parish, we continue this ancient and traditional method of handing down the Catholic Faith each year. If you know of anyone interested in embracing the Catholic Faith, encourage them to register for instructions which begin in September. Remember—it’s up to us to continue the work of spreading our faith.