Magazine article The Christian Century

Principles of the Catechumenal Process

Magazine article The Christian Century

Principles of the Catechumenal Process

Article excerpt

1) Storytelling. Each person, whether a bishop or a new Christian, has experienced God acting in his or her life. Telling those stories connects the biblical narrative with our individual lives.

2) Questions. Both our gospel reading and the secular world present us with questions. We discuss the experiences that have elicited our queries during that week and try to answer them. Our agenda almost always can be put aside in order to answer the questions troubling people's hearts and minds.

3) Community of faith. The catechumenal process does not operate in a vacuum. Often the group becomes a community, but the greater faith community is always present. The candidates are sponsored by church members willing to mentor a searching person on a spiritual journey. The whole congregation participates in the mandatory rites.

4) Celebration. The catechumenal rites (such as those recorded in the Episcopal Book of Occasional Services) are a rich and integral part of the process, These rites are public and participatory. They have integrity and are anticipated and remembered throughout the year. They give continuity to our liturgical worship.

5) Conversion. The catechumenal process seeks conversion controlled by the Holy Spirit, who acts on lives and changes hearts. These conversions are profound and tangible witnesses to the way Jesus still bears and brings new life.

6) Tradition. The Christian faith has a long history. The story of God's saving deeds stretches from Bible times to the present and continues in the lives of the communion of saints. What we learn from our Christian and denominational past empowers our future.

7) Mission. The catechumenal process demands mission or service. It is nearly impossible to reflect on the gospel for nine months without feeling called to participate in some form of mission. Each small group together undertakes at least one outreach project in the community.

8) Integrity. At no point is anyone forced to begin or continue the process. All who wish to explore their faith more intimately and meaningfully are welcome. Church membership does not require participation in the process (except for the nonbaptized). Already baptized people may transfer into the parish or become parish leaders without going through the process.

9) Activity directed by the Spirit and led by the laity. The Holy Spirit sends the catechumens when the church is ready. The Spirit provides the sponsors that match their needs. Laypeople rely on the Spirit's direction to form the content of the catechumenal process. …

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