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Celebrate Halloween? Don't Miss an Opportunity!

by Joyce Stolberg

A core doctrine of the Church encompasses the Communion of Saints: the faithful on earth are united with the triumphant in heaven while, still united, those who died without being completely purified continue their preparation for heaven in purgatory. Members can interrelate through prayer, merit, and intercession. Since earliest times, the Church has celebrated the anniversaries of the death of the martyrs. However during the persecution of Diocletian, so many martyrs gave their lives for the Faith that they could not be celebrated individually. Following the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.) those who led holy lives without being physically martyred were also honored. How could everyone who triumphed over earthly trials be honored?

There is mention in a homily by St. Ephrem the Syrian as early as 373 A.D. and by St. John Chrysostom in 407 A.D. of a common day celebrated in honor of all the saints. In the meantime, the western reaches of the Roman Empire had been spreading through the Celtic regions of Britain and beyond where the Druids celebrated the end of harvest and beginning of winter on October 31 with the feast of Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead could return to Earth (History Channel online). Whether by coincidence, or more likely to Christianize this feast, Pope Gregory III (731-741) established the feast honoring all the Saints in Rome on November 1; Gregory IV (827-844) extended the celebration to the universal Church (Catholic Encyclopedia, All Saints). From the beginning, celebration began on the vigil --- the prior evening, Halloween or "all hallows evening."

Some Christian denominations refuse to celebrate Halloween, claiming that it is a pagan feast and incompatible with their Christian teaching. These are the same austere Christian denominations which have suppressed the proper honor given to the saints: no "All Saints Day" equals no Halloween. The Catholic Church, on the contrary, uses things that tingle the bodily senses to invigorate the spirit. How can we Christianize rather than suppress our traditional Halloween fun, and replace the influence of the evil spirits with benign assistance from heavenly beings?

First of all, both for those who are implementing lectionary based catechesis and for those following a linear model, the end of October and - presented in Chapter 8 of God Calls You by Name. Death, judgment, heaven, purgatory, and hell are vital aspects of our Catholic Faith. Particular judgment at death, general judgment at the end of the world, the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come are essential elements of the Creed our candidates and catechumens will soon profess. Both the practice of virtue and the committing of sin have eternal consequences.

Secondly, engage in a bit of kinesthetic learning. Join the fun, but Christianize it! Why not encourage the children to dress as saints? Do the boys have a penchant for the macabre? If they must have the blood and gore, honor the martyrs, as the Church did in the beginning! They could, for example, come as John the Baptist, with a platter around the neck and a generous supply of catsup to represent a beheading. Or they could be Sebastian with toy arrows fastened in appropriate places, catsup added. St. Paul could have a sword attached to his neck (Ideas contributed by a friend, Kathryn Zamudio). Young girls could dress as princesses such as St. Elizabeth of Portugal or St. Margaret of Scotland, as nuns representing any number of Saints, or as virgin martyrs complete with the catsup gore or red makeup. For a little humor, try stringing up a large number of cut-out fish on a dowel and completing the costume was a bishop's miter. No, it's not St. Peter! It's St. Polycarp: poly means many and carp are fish! St. Patrick could chase a few harmless rubber snakes!

I think you get the idea: don't miss an opportunity! As autumn yields to winter, we celebrate the great harvest of souls gathering into the kingdom of heaven. Let us teach this doctrine with vigor, and celebrate it with appropriate measured enthusiasm.


Christmas Themes

by Joyce Stolberg

When I was growing up Catholic, the one essential theme presented by the liturgy and art of Christmas was, of course, the story about God becoming man, and being born in the most humble of circumstances -- a stable. We always had the manger close to the Christmas tree. Each year we would buy a few more plaster statues to embellish our nativity scene. That shopping trip meant the most to me, because I helped decide what we would add for the year. The singing angels, the adoring shepherds, the miraculously appearing star, the Kings traveling long distances to present gifts used in divine worship, all told me that almighty God became a human being and was born as a baby. That was, is, and always will be the Christmas story.

Now, I suggest that you ask your RCIA group to articulate words that come to mind when you are pondering the readings surrounding Christmas Eve and Christmas. As participants express these words one by one, allow the full richness of the word of God to fill your heart. Some words that have arisen when we have done this exercise include the following.


The term "house" here does not refer to a modest building designed for domestic use, although the Magi did enter the house where the Holy Family was staying subsequent to the first days of Christmas (Matthew 2: 9-11). The real House that defines the Christmas narratives is the House, or lineage, of King David, the man after God's own heart, who united Israel and Judah and reigned for approximately 50+ years sometime between 1000 BC and 900 BC. This house provided Jesus with his humanity. God speaks to David in the first reading for the generally poorly attended morning Mass --- not the vigil --- for December 24.

The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.'" 2 Sm 7:11-13

In the Epistle for the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass (the evening Mass of December 24 which fulfills the Christmas obligation) St. Paul recalls this promise made by God to David that he would always have a descendent on the throne. David was a man after God's own heart: he sinned grievously but he repented and gave God true wholehearted worship. We know that after the Jews returned from exile in 538 BC, although they made Zerubbabel the governor, they never succeeded in reestablishing the kingship in David's line.

Had God's promise come to an end? That Jews never gave up. The expectation of a political Messiah who would free Israel from its enemies and sit on the throne of King David was based on God's unconditional promise that David's sons would sit on the throne forever. But God fulfills his promises in ways that we humans least expect. One descendent would come --- and would reign forever! The Gospel of Matthew relates the comprehensive genealogy of St. Joseph. At some "children's masses" the short form is used --- this form may be better suited to the needs of smaller children, but it falls short of proclaiming the fullness of Jesus' human ancestry. God's promise was fulfilled beyond all expectation with the coming of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who is both David's son and David's Lord.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham. Mt 1:1


The union of God and man in the person of Jesus Christ has often been described as a marriage between heaven and earth. We see this also in the Vigil Mass of the evening of Christmas Eve. This theme has been foreshadowed in the Old Testament, notably in the prophecies of Isaiah. Yes, the people sinned repeatedly, and that sin was identified with harlotry or adultery because, by worshiping alien gods, Bride Israel rendered herself unfaithful to God the divine Bridegroom. Yet God spoke through the prophets, repeatedly calling Israel to repentance. God punished Israel's sins with exile, yet always called the nation back when they repented. God had always been working in the history of the people of the Old Testament, and the joy of God's presence effecting the restoration after exile has been described in terms of marriage. When the Son of God became man, the definitive marriage between God and humankind took place. Heaven is wedded to Earth and God is wedded to man forever.

No more shall people call you "Forsaken,"
or your land "Desolate,"
but you shall be called "My Delight,"
and your land "Espoused."
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you. Is. 62: 4,5


Jesus Christ came as our Savior: Adam and Eve had plunged humankind into a state of rebellion against God; no mere human being could stretch high enough to reach God and make amends. So God reached down to us by sending his Son to become man in the person of Jesus Christ. Our Midnight Mass begins with the proclamation from Isaiah that a Child is born to us who will free us from the yoke of sin and bring about a reign of peace. This is the announcement we long to hear!

For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. Is 9:3-5

Both the Epistle from Titus and the Gospel Infancy Narrative from Luke welcome Jesus Christ as our Savior: the bond between God and humankind which was broken by Adam has now been restored in the fully divine, fully human person of Jesus Christ. No, God did not give us a ticket back into original bliss of paradise, but he did give us a pathway back to grace. God has restored his grace to the human race because his Son has become one of us. This is the source of our joy.

The grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good. Ti 2:11-14

For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." Lk 2: 11-14


In the liturgy of the Word for the Mass at Dawn on Christmas day, we share the shepherds' awe and amazement at the message given to them by the Angels. We approach the child Jesus in humility, with a sense of wonder at what God has done for us. In this scene we express our tender love and pour out our affection for Jesus who came to be with us as a baby.

When the angels went away from them to heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
"Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us."

So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger. Lk. 2:15, 16


When we speak of Jesus Christ as Lord, we are referring to his divinity. The Son of God existed as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity from all eternity. Both our liturgy and our art depict him as pre-existing with the Father, coming down from heaven, taking on a human body, and becoming man. The Christmas Mass of the Day reflects Christ's divinity. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks very clearly of Jesus' divine origin.

Brothers and sisters:
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways
to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son,
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,
who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say:
You are my son; this day I have begotten you?
Or again:
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me?
And again, when he leads the firstborn into the world, he says:
Let all the angels of God worship him. Hb. 1:1-6

The Gospel of St. John is likewise clear about Jesus' divine origin.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it. Jn 1:1-5

Many other words find their reflection in the liturgies surrounding Christmas. FAMILY: The loving bonds of the Holy Family are celebrated in the liturgy of the Sunday between Christmas and New Year. BLESSING: In the feast of Mary, Mother of God (January 1) the powerful blessing given by God through Moses and Aaron is given to us at the very dawn of the new year. ADORATION: On the feast of Epiphany we see three Gentile kings who came from long distances adoring Jesus as King and Lord. How many other words can you find reflected in the rich liturgies of the season?

Catholics Must Rise above Conventional Morality

by Joyce Stolberg

We have welcomed our new group of inquirers, answered questions, and have begun our series of catechetical instructions. As we move closer toward formal entrance into the catechumenate in late autumn, we invariably approach the discussion concerning moral issues. This year the lesson is highlighted and hastened by the imminence of our national elections.

Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987) made a doctoral presentation in 1958, which blossomed into his theory of moral development in the 1960s and to his life's work. We are approaching the 50th anniversary of his famous "Heinz's dilemma" (1963). Heintz, after doing all in his power to purchase a drug properly, must decide whether to steal it in order to (hopefully) save the life of his wife. If you studied Kohlberg's work you know that the issue is not whether, but why, Heintz should or should not steal the drug. Kohlberg postulated that the moral thinking of most adults falls on a conventional level: either do what society deems "good" or function in a way that maintains the social order.

Conventional moral thinking might have been enough for Catholics in the early 1960s. Social norms have changed drastically over the past 50 years: what the larger society considered "good" or "praiseworthy" 50 years ago might now be considered at least archaic, but more likely bigoted and anti-social today. For example, in the early 1960s the value of prenatal or unborn life, care of the aged until natural death, the permanence of marriage, and the reservation of sexual activity exclusively to heterosexual marital relationships, were all part and parcel of conventional thinking. Birth control required self-control. The 10 Commandments ruled.

What does "conventional moral thinking" look like today? Abortion is such a commonly used legal option that unwilling young women are often pressured into the procedure, the elderly and terminally ill are routinely sedated and starved, serial sexual relationships are "normal" and anyone who dares to challenge "gay rights" is subject to punishment. Freedom of religion has morphed into prohibition of any religious expression in public places. Artificial birth control and related "reproductive services" are considered "good" by conventional society and have morphed into mandatory health care, free from normal co-pays, which Catholic institutions are required to include in their insurance policies. Sex education, combined with abortifacient drugs, now being dispensed in schools, amounts to programmed perversion. All these attitudes clearly militate against Catholic teaching and against our basic Judeo-Christian 10 Commandments.

Yet, in the 1960s a few leaders, such as Martin Luther King, dared us to go beyond conventional norms to act in civil disobedience by protesting discriminatory laws that clearly trampled human rights. These morally distinguished challengers upended the social order, bringing equal rights to all citizens regardless of race. For his disobedience, Kohlberg awarded Martin Luther King the highest moral rating. In the 1960s, participating in the Civil Rights Movement was an option. Now in 2012, all Catholics are called upon to challenge and rise above conventional norms of morality, just as Peter did in Acts 5:29, "But Peter and the apostles said in reply, 'We must obey God rather than men.'" When the things that society deems "good" are intrinsically disordered, or when the social order encompasses morally untenable norms, we as Catholics must observe and teach God's law in opposition to societal mores.

When our government, through the Health and Human Services mandate, forces us to pay for morally abominable "services" we must disobey, challenge, and protest. When our culture expects school-age children to have sex, we must inculcate in the youth under our care a determination to resist peer pressure.

So, where does this take us when we are teaching the 10 Commandments and the basic tenants of Catholic morality? We must call our inquirers, candidates, and catechumens to a standard of morality that runs directly counter to the society within which they live. In particular, we must courageously teach a respect for all life from conception to natural death, the sanctity of marriage as a permanent union between one man and one woman, and abstinence from all sexual activity outside the sacred bonds of matrimony. We ourselves must understand and be able to explain why the Catholic bishops and Catholic institutions are so vehemently opposed to the health and human services mandate.

The gulf between conventional moral thinking and essential Catholic morality has been increasing every year. Yet, when we clearly and honestly challenge our candidates and catechumens with the demands of Catholic morality, the Holy Spirit consistently provides them with the grace to respond and grow toward a very high level of moral thinking and action. For example, many who had been cohabiting when they began our RCIA processes have, with the grace of God, chosen to discontinue doing so.

Let us revisit the 1960s for a moment. Those who faced the evils of segregation squarely and risked brutality and jail time for civil disobedience brought about major change in the prevailing social order. If all Catholics today reject the norms of society and demand a higher standard of morality, we can reverse the descending trend of moral norms in our society today. Christ calls us in Luke 13:21 to be the yeast that raises the dough, "It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed [in] with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.” We are not meant to be part of the lump!

Designing Your Calendar for 2012-2013
Part 3

By Joyce Stolberg

The same Holy Spirit who inspired the design of the lectionary also inspired our catechetical system. Therefore, lectionary-based catechesis operates in synergy with systematic instruction when sound planning is applied. Before formally inaugurating your RCIA process, prepare a calendar specifically for the year and liturgical cycle in which you are teaching. Part Two of the supplement to the Catechist and Directors' Edition of God Calls You by Name provides a general guide for aligning topics with liturgical readings. Pages S-37 through S-52 help correlate the lessons for initial evangelization and catechesis in New Beginnings with the spring and summer liturgies. Pages S-53 through S-82 assist in correlating the lesson plans in God Calls You by Name with the fall, winter, and spring liturgies. Presented here is a sample calendar, which can be used for formal catechetical instruction from the fall of 2012 through mystagogia of 2013. This calendar begins in Year B and moves to Year C on the first Sunday of Advent.

Part 1 Designing Your Calendar Autumn 2012

Part 2 Designing Your Calendar for Advent and Christmas 2012

Part 3 Designing Your Calendar for Lent 2013

Calendar for 2012-2013: Season of Lent: Preparing with the “Elect”

Prepare for the holy season of Lent. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and commemorates the 40-day fast of Jesus in the desert. The liturgical season of Lent developed from the 40-day period of intense preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation undertaken by early catechumens, and from penitential practices of the ancient Celtic monks. Today the legal obligation to fast is retained only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence from meat applies to Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent; consult regional regulations. Fasting, prayer and almsgiving remain the pillars of Lenten discipline; exercise of adult level choice, responsibility and decision-making in detailing these Lenten practices is elicited. Encourage the Elect to make additional meaningful sacrifices during this sacred season. Review Chapter 10 of God Calls You By Name, which concerns Church discipline.

By the time Lent begins, you have taught Catholic doctrine and sacramental theology. Prepare candidates for First Reconciliation. Spend time on prayer, reflection, discernment, and on making immediate preparations for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. Practice various forms of prayer and introduce devotions, especially the Stations of the Cross. See God Calls You by Name, Chapters 16, 17 & 18. Use meditations at the ends of various chapters. They lend well to a guided imagery format.

During Lent work closely with your liturgist. You will be celebrating the Rite of Sending for Election or Enrollment of Names, the Call to Continuing Conversion, Scrutinies, and other rites proper to the period of Enlightenment. During the Scrutinies, the Church is repeatedly asking, “Are you ready?” and “Sponsors, do you think they are ready?” Additional rites such as presentations of the Lord’s Prayer and Creed, and the Ephphetha rite may be celebrated either before the community or within sessions or during retreats.

Sunday Date Sunday Readings Suggested Topic

Feb. 13, 2013: Ash Wednesday


Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51;

2 Corinthians5:20-6:2

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Break open the Word

Feb. 17, 2013: First Sun. Lent

Session date, Time

Rites: Sending, Election

Deuteronomy 26:4-10; Psalm 91

Romans 10:8-13

Luke 4:1-13

Prayer, GCYBN, Ch. 17
CCC # 2558-2865

Reflect on Rites

Feb. 24, 2013: 2nd Sun. of Lent

Session Date, Time

Call to Continuing Conversion (for Candidates)


Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18

Psalm 27

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Luke 9:28b-36

Sacrifice of Jesus, Redemption

GCYBN, Ch. 6

Journey of Self-Discovery, GCYBN,

p 211, Examine Conscience, Commandments, Reconciliation-practical aspects; GCYBN, Ch. 14

Year A B C: 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent

Readings from Year A are proclaimed at Masses attended by the Elect on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent. These readings are designed for their instruction, and they correlate with the prayers of the Scrutinies. Collaborate with your liturgist, particularly on these Sundays. Sessions during the third, fourth, fifth and sixth weeks of Lent should intensify in tone as you celebrate the Scrutinies and make immediate preparations for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation, and for First Reconciliation for candidates. The Old Testament readings depict stages on the epic trek through Salvation History. The Gospel scenes from St. John utilize circumlocution -- the unveiling of part of a story, followed by a misunderstanding, completed by explanations and a fuller development of the lesson. This is a didactic technique employed throughout the Gospel of St. John. These Gospel readings model the apex of ancient Semitic story-telling and right-brained catechesis.

Note: In the recent past, the reception of candidates into full communion with the Catholic Church has been celebrated using the combined rite at the Easter Vigil. It is now recommended that the center of focus for the Easter Vigil be maintained as the Sacrament of Baptism, followed by Confirmation and first Eucharist for the Elect. Your bishop, who directs the liturgy in your diocese, may desire that candidates be welcomed into full communion and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at a different time. We have held this on various Sundays between the Fourth Sunday of Lent and Palm Sunday; one parish celebrates this rite on Holy Thursday evening. Actually, the liturgy of the Fourth Sunday of Lent was originally designed to honor the ancient catechumens and it is ideal for the reception of candidates into the Church. Doing this prior to Easter honors the baptismal status of candidates and enables them to participate fully in all the Holy Week observances. Your Bishop sets the norms for RCIA and for liturgical practices in your diocese: consult local diocesan regulations. Plan a retreat for the candidates and ensure the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to celebrating this rite.

Sunday Date Sunday Readings Suggested Topic

Mar. 3, 2013: 3rd Sun. of Lent Session Date, Time

(First Scrutiny, Present Creed)

Year A,
Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42

Rite of Reconciliation --

or -- Thirst for the Grace of Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist

Mar. 10, 2013: 4th Sun. of Lent

Session Date, Time

(Second Scrutiny)

Year A

1Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a;

Psalm 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Meditation on Darkness and Light

Review Mass GCYBN, Ch.1, 13

John, Chapters 6, 9,


Sunday Date Sunday Readings Suggested Topic

Mar. 17, 2013: 5th Sun. of Lent

Session Date, Time

(Third Scrutiny, Present Our Father)

Year A

Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45

Mission of Jesus, Passion,

Holy Week, GCYBN, Ch. 2,6,18


Passion of Christ and Holy Week

Holy Week is the most solemn and most ancient segment of the Church’s liturgical cycle. It begins with Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The Sacred Triduum -- from the evening of Holy Thursday through Easter -- comprises one seamless commemoration of the Institution of the Eucharist and Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. Involve Elect and candidates in foot washing ceremonies and Eucharistic processions on Holy Thursday. Sacraments of Initiation are central to the Easter Vigil, secure space near the Paschal Fire and reserved seating for Elect, candidates, team, and sponsors. Design a retreat for Holy Saturday as an immediate preparation for the ceremonies of the Easter Vigil. See Retreat Number Three, God Calls You by Name Supplement, pages S-95-97. Elicit a vigorous, unified response of "I do!" to appropriate questions in the meditation. This will prepare them for their responses at Baptism. Try to plan a time during this retreat when your pastor can come to answer any final questions your catechumens may have.

Sunday Date Sunday Readings Suggested Topic

Mar. 24, 2013: Passion (Palm) Sunday

Session Date, Time


Procession Gospel: Luke 19:28-40

Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22

Philippians 2:6-11

Luke 22:14-23:56

Meditation, final preparations

John, Chapters 13-17

Mar. 28, 2013: Holy Thursday


Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 116;

1 Corinthians 11:23-26;

John 13:1-15

Remain at Mass

Mar. 29, 2013: Good Friday


Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 31; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9;

John 18:1-19:42

Attend Solemn Liturgy


Mar. 30, 2013: Easter Vigil


Genesis 1:1-2:2; Genesis 22:1-18; Exodus 14:15-15:1; Isaiah 54:5-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4;; Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28; Romans 6:3-11; Luke 24:1-12



Mar. 31, 2013: Easter Sunday


Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; John 20:1-9;

Afternoon Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

Full Participation (optional,
strongly encouraged)

Reflect and celebrate!


Easter and Mystagogia: Pondering the Mystery

The Easter Vigil, during which the Sacraments of Initiation, including Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion are received, is the climax of the entire RCIA Process. Although it may feel like a graduation, it is in reality a commencement, a new beginning. It celebrates a formal setting aside of an old way of life and a ritual public embracing of a new life in Jesus Christ. The full benefits of the graces conferred may not be realized at the moment, but are appreciated through reflection on the experience of having received these sacraments.

Mystagogia is, by definition, a time to reflect on the mysteries that have just been experienced. Baptized, confirmed and received members of the Church are called “neophytes,” or literally “new growths.” The full weight of reflecting on the readings of the Church now rest within the didactic sessions, because there is no longer a “Breaking open the Word.” Objectives for the period of Mystagogia include reflection on having experienced the sacraments, completion of teachings on Catholic customs, sacramentals and devotions, designing a plan for continuing Catholic education with suggestions from God Calls You By Name, Part 6 and further development of any instructions requested by neophytes. Incorporate new Christians into the structure of the Church community. This period spans the seven weeks from Easter until Pentecost. If possible, conclude with a special Mass and dinner, or some other formal celebration.

These Sunday Masses of the Easter season are called "the Masses for the neophytes" (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, # 237) during which the neophytes continue to celebrate the mysteries within the heart of the gathered community. Continue sitting in your reserved seats during this time.

Sunday Date Sunday Readings Suggested Topic

April 7, 2013: 2nd Sun. of Easter

Session Date, Time

Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118

Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19

John 20:19-31

Reflection on the Mysteries

GCYBN Ch. 19, Further Study, invite topic requests

April 14, 2013: 3rd Sun. of Easter Session Date, Time


Acts 5:27b-32, 40b-41; Psalm 30

Revelation 5:11-14

John 21:1-19

Requested Topics


April 21, 2013: 4th Sun. of Easter

Session Date, Time


Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100

Revelation 7:9, 14b-17;

John 10:27-30

Ministry, Parish Speakers
Call to Service, Registration

April 28 , 2013: 5th Sun. of Easter

Session Date, Time


May 5, 2012 6th Sun. of Easter


Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145

Rev. 21:1-5a; John 13:31-33a, 34-35


Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23

John 14:23-29

Social teachings



Topics, Wrap-up, Evaluation


May 9, Thurs. or May 12, Sun. 2013

Ascension of the Lord

Session Date, Time


May 12, 2013:7th Sun. of Easter

(if Ascension is celebrated on Thurs.)

Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47

Ephesians 1:17-23 or Hebrews 9:24-28, 10:19-23; Luke 24:46-53


Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 97

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20

John 17:20-26





Formal Celebration


May 19, 2013: Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104

Romans 8:8-17 or 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13


Directors, catechists and teams may already be working with a new group of inquirers and catechumens during the spring and summer months, using the "New Beginnings" series of lessons provided at the head of the supplement to God Calls You By Name. Nevertheless, it is important to take time for refreshment, relaxation and spiritual renewal. Planning a realistic summer process that respects the needs of leaders and participants will foster a spiritual growth that is uniquely attuned to the cycles of nature and the summer liturgies. Try to plan one major summer event to which the newly confirmed neophytes and new inquirers and catechumens can come with their families. In the fall, plan to gather with neophytes about once a month for a year, until they are well incorporated into the local parish community. Remember, you are for each neophyte what the disciples were for the new members in the earliest Christian communities.

Designing Your Calendar for 2012-2013
Part 1

By Joyce Stolberg

The same Holy Spirit who inspired the design of the lectionary also inspired our catechetical system. Therefore, lectionary-based catechesis operates in synergy with systematic instruction when sound planning is applied. Before formally inaugurating your RCIA process, prepare a calendar specifically for the year and liturgical cycle in which you are teaching. Part Two of the supplement to the Catechist and Directors' Edition of God Calls You by Name provides a general guide for aligning topics with liturgical readings. Pages S-37 through S-52 help correlate the lessons for initial evangelization and catechesis in New Beginnings with the spring and summer liturgies. Pages S-53 through S-82 assist in correlating the lesson plans in God Calls You by Name with the fall, winter, and spring liturgies. Presented here is a sample calendar, which can be used for formal catechetical instruction from the fall of 2012 through mystagogia of 2013. This calendar begins in Year B and moves to Year C on the first Sunday of Advent.

Part 1 Designing Your Calendar for Autumn 2012

Part 2 Designing Your Calendar for Advent and Christmas 2012-2013

Part 3 Designing Your Calendar for Lent 2013

Calendar for 2012-2013: Autumn Entry into Formal Catechesis

The liturgy of Ordinary, (ordinal or numbered) Time coaches and mentors us in Christian growth and development. The week of the 23rd Sunday offers a probable transition point from an informal summer process to a formal autumn entry. The 24th through the 29th Sundays in Ordinary Time correlate well with the instructional materials in the first two parts of God Calls You by Name. These six Sundays will likely correspond with the Precatechumenate /Inquiry period of the formal RCIA Process. Chapters one and two of God Calls You by Name present liturgical ceremony and etiquette, the order of the Mass and the use and symbolic meaning of material things in Catholic liturgy. These instructions are vital to developing a comfort level with attendance at Sunday Mass. Your pattern of ritual dismissal for reflection on the Scripture readings may also be forming during these weeks.

Chapters three, four and five present basic information concerning the Catholic Church, including the Catholic teaching on Scripture and the role of Tradition, as well as the nature, structure, symbolism, models, leadership and history of the Church. These topics address key questions of inquirers and fulfill the goals of the Precatechumenate. They need not be approached in the same order as the book presents them.

Three major events shape our catechetical process this year. October 11 begins an intense year of new evangelization: this marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II. As RCIA directors and catechists, you are on the cutting edge of the evangelization process. This is also a presidential election year with its obsessive campaigning in the autumn. Moral issues taught by the Catholic Church militate against the permissive morality of our contemporary society, and they will factor into our choices of candidates for public office on all levels. We will also see an intense protest against the Health and Human Services Mandate which requires Catholic institutions to pay for birth control, abortions, sterilization procedures, and other "reproductive services" in violation of our conscience as Catholics. These key issues will assert themselves forcefully into the manner in which you present Catholic Church structure and history, moral teachings, and life and social issues, presented in Chapters 4, 5, 7, and 9 of the text. A suggested calendar for 2012-2013, beginning in Cycle B and changing to Cycle C on the first Sunday of Advent, is presented below. The supplement section of God Calls You by Name provides further details for your correlations.

Year B/C

Because of the natural rhythm of the Gospel of Mark, a program for the year in which it is read may differ somewhat from the order of instruction in God Calls You By Name and from your plan for other years. St. Mark describes events in Christ’s life with the imminence and energy of St. Peter with whom he worked. Express this momentum in your autumn lessons.

Sunday Date Sunday Readings Suggested Topic

Sept. 9, 2012: 23rd Sun. Ord. Time
Session Date, Time

Isaiah 35:4-7a; Psalm 146;

James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37

Welcome, Introductions
RCIA Process Explained
GCYBN: Intro. CCC #1-49

Sept. 16, 2012: 24th Sun. Ord. Time
Session Date, Time

Isaiah 50:4c-9a; Psalm 116;

James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35

The Mass, Worship

GCYBN Ch. 1, CCC 1066 - 1112

Sept. 23, 2012: 25th Sun. Ord. Time
Session Date, Time

Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54

James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37


Liturgical Enhancements, GCYBN
Ch. 2, CCC #1145 to 1209


Sept. 30, 2012: 26th Sun. Ord. Time Session Date, Time

Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19

James 5:1-6;

Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

The Church, GCYBN Ch. 4
CCC #748-987


Oct. 7, 2012: 27th Sun. Ord. Time Session Date, Time

Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 128

Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16

History of the Church, GCYBN Ch. 5. Introduce Church teachings on marriage, divorce, nullity, with Gospel explanation.

Oct. 14, 2012: 28th Sun. Ord. Time
Session Date, Time

Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90

Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30


Divine Revelation and Scripture
GCYBN Ch. 3, CCC #50-184

Oct. 21, 2012: 29th Sun. Ord. Time

Session Date, Time


Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalm 33

Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45

Introduce Morality, 10 Command-ments, Church Teachings in GCYBN, Ch.7 and 9, elaborate on them later CCC #1877-2557


Note: It is extremely important for inquirers to have at least a solid basic presentation of the 10 Commandments and the moral teachings and requirements of the Church, including marriage laws, before they choose to enter the catechumenate. Chapter 7 of God Calls You by Name presents basic conscience formation, morality, and the Ten Commandments. Chapter 9 presents Church teachings that build on these doctrines (and will be addressed repeatedly); it addresses practical moral issues. Do make sure that the essentials of Catholic moral teachings are presented prior to your discernment retreat for the Rites of Acceptance and Welcome. You have already introduced doctrines concerning the Trinity and Christ in their sublime simplicity during the course of initial catechesis; candidates are also cognizant of these essential doctrines. Chapter 6 details these wonderful doctrines; it can be presented after the retreat, if necessary. The November liturgies center around the great harvest of souls at the end of time; material from Chapter 8 (last things) should be presented in November.

This calendar plan allows time to pause and reflect during the week of October 23. Briefly introduce the purposes of prayer and the teaching on the "Our Father" in God Calls You by Name, Ch. 17, then offer time for questions and discussion on material presented so far. Save time for discernment concerning the decision to participate in the Rites of Acceptance and Welcome, allow participants and potential sponsors an opportunity to confidentially write down some names of persons with whom they could interact well. Plan a pre-acceptance retreat, during which the discernment process can be enhanced. The first retreat plan, God Calls You by Name, S-85, is based on the readings for All Saints' Day; it presents the Beatitudes and the Our Father in greater depth.

Sunday Date Sunday Readings Suggested Topic

Oct. 28, 2012: 30th Sun. Ord. Time

Session Date, Time

Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126

Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52


Introduce Holy Days of Obligation

Continue Morality, Discernment,

Preparation for rites

Retreat #1: Date, Time, Place
(Time frame is flexible)


See 1st retreat plan, GCYBN, S-85

(Plan for Rite of Acceptance, suggest any Sunday following retreat)

Nov. 1, 2012: Feast of All Saints
(Holy Day of Obligation)

Rev. 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24;

1 John 3: 1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a


Nov. 4, 2012: 31st Sun. Ord. Time

Session Date, Time

Deuteronomy 6:2-6; Psalm 18

Hebrews 7:23-28

Mark 12:28b-34

Catholic Doctrine, GCYBN, Ch. 6,
CCC #199-747


Nov. 11, 2012: 32nd Sun. Ord. Time
Session Date, Time


1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146

Hebrews 9:24-28


Nature of Humankind, Morality, GCYBN, Ch. 7, 9 in more detail

CCC # 1877- 2557

Nov. 18, 2012: 33rd Sun. Ord. Time, Session Date, Time


Daniel 12:1-3

Psalm 16

Hebrews 10:11-14, 18


The Holy City (Last Things), GCYBN, Ch. 8, CCC #976- 1065

(If breaking for Thanksgiving, use this topic elsewhere before Advent.)

Nov. 25, 2012: Feast of Christ the King
Session Date, Time

Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93

Revelation 1:5-8

John 18:33b-37

Church Discipline, Precepts, GCYBN, Ch 10, CCC # 1877-2557
Prepare for Advent (or Last Things)


Note: If you take a break during Thanksgiving week, the last two lessons listed above can be combined. Introduce the Precepts of the Church now; the difference between unchanging dogma and adjustable disciplinary practices is vitally important here. Stress Holy Days of Obligation: three of them occur between December 8 and January 1. Explain fasting and abstinence just prior to Ash Wednesday. Prepare for Advent, which inaugurates a new liturgical year with a new cycle of readings. Describe the three-year cycle of readings. Review material in Chapter 2 on liturgical seasons and colors.

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