I have a question for my knowledgeable readers. Today during Mass at a parish I visited during the Third Scrutiny for the elect of R.C.I.A. the priest did an imposition of hands on each of the elect followed by a women doing the same thing. Now of course the laity doing this is certainly mistaken, I am just wondering if this was appropriate for the priest to do so for the Third Scrutiny?
Yes, it is appropriate for the priest to impose hands. The rite calls for it, albeit briefly. As for the woman, NO! The rite does not call for that.
yep, it’s okay. In my RCIA book which I was given to borrow by a priest and never got around to returning..ooops….There is an exorcism where the celebrant joins his hands and faces the elect and then says a prayer. After that the instructions say, “Here, if this can be done conveniently, the celebrant lays hands on each of the elect. Then with hands outstretched over all the elect, he continues:”
Who is this woman and why is she touching the RCIA people?
Fr. Philip, OP
I suppose it would be uncharitable to say she’s putting the evil spirits back in. 🙂
Apparently, some people think that the priest doing a ritual should be “balanced” by a woman doing it, or a “representative of the laity” doing it, or the whole congregation looking like they’re sieg-heiling to do it.
This is obviously incorrect, as the exorcism comes from Christ through the priest, and not from the priest or the laity. But there’s a lot of mistaken thoughts floating around out there.
I know absolutely nothing about liturgy and a woman imposing hands sounds iffy anyway. Maureen may be right about restoring the evil spirits. Oh dear. And this close to Easter, too.
At our parish they had the Godparent(s) stand behind our respective Elect and lay our hands on their shoulders during the prayers (except for during the exorcism part). But we certainly were not imposing hands like the priest was doing.
There is a provision for the priest to lay hands on the elect during the exorcism in the Third Scrutiny, but not for a lay person.
If I were to guess, I would say the woman was probably the primary catechist/RCIA director. For the minor exorcisms that take place during the period of the catechumenate (between the Rite of Acceptance and the Rite of Election), the rites do say “The presiding celebrant for the minor exorcisims is a priest, a deacon, or a qualified catechist appointed by the bishop for this ministry” (no. 91).
If she were given permission by the bishop to do the minor exorcisms during the catechumenate, I could see how they might think that having her do them during the scrutiny could also be appropriate. I don’t think it is, since there is a priest present and there is no need to have two people participate in the rite, but I can see how someone could make the mistake.
I am the RCIA coordinator in my parish. On page 120 of the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults”, which is “Approved for use in the dicoeses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and confirmed by the Apostolic See” states on page 120, “…the CELEBRANT lays hands on each one of the elect.”
It is not appropriate for any lay person, or religious to lay hands. It is through the power of the ordained priesthood that makes effective the prayer of Exorcism ( which is the word that the Rite Book uses on page 120).
While the priest must lay hands “if this can be done conveniently” the notion that someone else is laying on of hands is someone trying to make a political statement not an valid liturgical act.
And in today’s church, why are we surprised.
And I question the above reference about a lay person being able to do. Number 91 – where can that be found? State the source, please.
Sometimes people don’t look at the directions carefully and assume things, like: 1) are the scrunities minor exorcisims and 2) can the rites which are celebrated within the context of a Eucharistic Liturgy be done by a non-ordained person when there is an assumption that there is a ordained priest present in celebrating mass.
Now, if the scrutinies were not done at a Eucharsitic Liturgy then maybe 91 comes into play. But why would the Vatican allow a lay person to do the exorcism if there is a priest.
“Apparently, some people think that the priest doing a ritual should be “balanced” by a woman doing it, or a “representative of the laity” doing it, or the whole congregation looking like they’re sieg-heiling to do it.”
More likely it’s a place in which this person has some leadership capacity with the elect. Charity would dictate we think the best of the effort, even if we identify it as at odds with the liturgical rite.
More positively, it may point to the need for the pastor to be more active with the RCIA group, visiting when not presenting, being available for counseling, socializing, welcoming, and the like. More important that the role of the priest (meaning just any ol’ priest) is that of the pastor, and his connection with the people entering the Church. Lacking that connection, I can see that the imposition of hands from a lay person who actually works with these people is more meaningful than the hands of a stranger.
More so, look the Lenten Scrutinies take place after the Rite of Election, (when they go the Cathedral for the Bishop to receive the elect in the Catechumenate or in the Third Phase of RCIA called Purification and Enlightenment. The minor exorcisims that the above emailer mentioned refer to the minor exorcisms performed between the Rite of Acceptance and the Rite of Election. The scrutinies celebrated at this church which began this conversation were done after the Rite of Election, not before. Therefore, instruction 91 does not apply.
So while there appears to be the possibility that a lay person can perform the laying on of hands, s/he can only do so outside the Lenten Liturgies.
This is a very important distinction because within the context of the Lenten Liturgies, only the celebrant should be laying on of hands, not a lay person.
The laying on of hands refers to Christ command to his Apostles, thus passed on to priests and bishops. It is not the human relationship that they affirm (certainly RCIA leaders can do this other ways) but trusting that God would heal them and deliver them from all that is evil. And I think the prayers of an ordained priest would be more effective in saying this prayer than a lay person.
Charity would dictate we think the best of the effort, even if we identify it as at odds with the liturgical rite.
Wouldn’t charity also dictate that we not engage in speculation over the “need for the pastor to be more active with the RCIA group”?
It is no wonder why so many of us “old Mass” Catholics still remain with the “old rites Sacraments”. Will the silliness a novelities never end?
[i]And I question the above reference about a lay person being able to do. Number 91 – where can that be found? State the source, please.[/i]
I’m sorry I wasn’t clear, it is in the same rites book you referenced. It’s on page 42 of my book, but depending on your publisher, it could be on a different page in yours. It’s the second paragraph of the section on minor exorcisms under “Rites belonging to the period of the catechumenate”
I had to leave in the middle of my post so, here’s the rest:
My guess (and it is only a guess since it is no where stated in the rites or accompanying documents) is that this provision for a “qualified catechist” to act as celebrant for the minor exorcisms was intended primarily for areas or parishes where it was impossible or difficult for a priest to be present (mission areas, rural churches that get a priest only once a month, etc.). I know in many parishes catechists will perform these as well as the blessings and anointings even if there is a regular parish priest because he is unable to attend the weekly sessions (when the minor exorcisms generally take place).
I can see no reason for a lay person to do the exorcisms if a priest is present, as was the case in Jeff’s question. However, if the scrutiny was done outside of Mass (which is acceptable) and the priest could not be present, then I see no reason why the deputized catechist would not be able to act as the celebrant in the scrutiny as well. I believe that the exorcism in the scrutiny is a minor exorcism as well (contrasted against a major exorcism in the case of possession or obsession, which should not be attempted even by your average priest as there are specially appointed diocesan exorcists trained for that). I could be wrong in those distinctions.
“Wouldn’t charity also dictate that we not engage in speculation over the ‘need for the pastor to be more active with the RCIA group’?”
Thanks for responding, Rich, but the answer is no. I qualified my speculation clearly, unlike some who immediately attributed ill motives.
Charity demands that we think the best of the person’s intention for any act, it does not demand that we countenance the act in any way and that we can’t speak out against it. We can indeed do both.
I have written a letter to the pastor about this and several other things I noticed such as EMHC are the ones that are purifying the sacred vessels despite the fact that there is no longer an indult for this and that it can only be done by a Deacon, Priest, Bishop, or Acolyte.
In my letter though I talked nothing about intentions or motives, just my concerns and for me charity was the driving factor both in the manner I wrote the letter and for bringing up an issue. It is not charitable to ignore a liturgical abuse.
Jeff, thanks for your response. I was thinking less of your response than that of others, even those offered in jest.
Sometimes with Rich and others, it seems the distinction between criticizing the act and criticizing the motive is lost. Being publicly critical has the potential to stroke the ego, so we all–and I include myself in this–have a caution to be watchful.
It is also true that St Blog’s in general has a reputation for being vicious at times, so we should always approach the limits of charitable criticism with caution: showing we accept it from others, avoiding the tendency to get personal, and attribute motives we cannot know. Not doing so mutes the “charitable” criticism we can and should offer.
Sometimes with Rich and others, it seems the distinction between criticizing the act and criticizing the motive is lost.
This is just silly, and typical. When faced with almost any criticism of a liturgical (or catechetical) aberration, you deflect attention back to the person raising the complaint, generally questioning their motives.
Rich, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black? You make every disagreement into a battlefield in the culture war. Get over yourself, man. You can do better than this kind of pettiness.
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