Christian Initiation

Our seminar asks questions that stand at the intersection of a classicordo for Christian Initiation and the ongoing formation of the church. What is the vision for the church inherent within these rites? How is that intention both supported and resisted by the church? What historical sources inform us?

Convener

Garrick Comeau
garrickcomeaux@msn.com

Seminar Report 2020

Convener

Diana Dudoit Raiche, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Grad- uate Programs, Ann & Joe O. Neuhoff School of Ministry, University of Dallas

Members in Attendance

Garrick Comeau, Christina (Christy) Condyles, Den- nis Chriszt, Nicholas Denysenko, Tim Fitzgerald, Jason Haddocks, Larry Mick, Mark Stamm, Vicki Tufano, Paul Turner, Stephen Wilbricht

Visitors in Attendance

Ching-yu Huang, Pekka Rehumaki, Christina Ronzio, Kyle Turner, David Wood

Description of Work

The Christian Initiation Seminar addresses questions that stand at the intersection of sacraments of initiation, the classic Ordo for Christian initiation, and ongoing formation for discipleship in the church. The Seminar held a joint session with the Formation for Liturgical Prayer Seminar for an update on the Order of Baptism of Children with guest presenter Marit Rong.

Papers and Presentations

  • Paul Turner gave an update on the new Order of Baptism of Children. New translation rules and new editions in Latin necessitate the Order of Baptism of Children, available January 6, 2020. It may be used as of February 2, 2020; it must be used by April 12, Establishing the biblical evidence that infants were baptized as part of whole households by 3rd century, this new ritual book is for those who are younger than the age of reason (7 years, or catechetical age). Infants should be baptized “within the first few weeks after birth” (Canon 867.1) and disability is no reason for deferring baptism (USCCB Guidelines on Persons with Disability). The presentation focused on what is different in the new ritual text compared to what remains the same.
  • Marit Rong gave a presentation on “Confirmation—and/or Christian Faith?” from the perspective of three contexts: 1)Roman Catholics are the fastest growing group in Norway, 2) as a folk church, the Church of Norway connects Confirmation to pietism from Copenhagen, and 3) a third, new ritual for confirmation, which is not a sacrament, is emerging. Confirmation has been necessary to be considered an adult, go to dances, or get It has been influenced by Luther’s catechism because one had to have enough knowledge to be confirmed. From the perspective of a Lutheran pastor and professor, the paper responds to the ritual decisions in the third confirmation ritual that raise theological questions. Is the new ritual looking backwards or looking forward to communion? How do we initiate people into the body of Christ? Should confirmation be a rite of passage, or is it a rite of intercession in the Church of Norway?
  • Christina Condyles presented a chapter from her dissertation, “Sacramental Relationships: God, the World, and the Christian”. Following a summary of the dissertation, which is to advance a theological understanding of sacramental personhood and better live out Christian identity in the world, and providing an outline of the first chapter, Condyles focused on sacramental theology of the sacraments of initiation. Three topics were offered for discus- sion by the seminar members: 1) Relationships made through the sacraments God, Creation, and the Church: What are the primary obstacles to living out these relationships more fully: Shallow spirituality and failure to reflect sufficiently on what we pray? How much do we think about what we are saying? 2) Regarding terminology—what needs to be made clearer—sacramental economy and sacramental personhood? 3) What is the relationship between sacramental identity and ecclesial identity?
  • Diana Dudoit Raiche presented a paper on “Liturgical Catechesis: A Method with Constitutive Elements”. The thesis of the paper advances that there are three movements to liturgical catechesis and such catechesis, using the constitutive elements found in Sacrosanctum Concilium, need to be presented in relation to reflection on how they are experienced in the liturgy rather than merely as a disconnected educational exercise in preparation for liturgy. Conversation focused on a request for suggestions for adapting the more academic paper for a pastoral audience.
  • Nicholas Denysenko, writing on reconciliation in the Orthodox tradition from the perspective of a liturgical scholar, presented a paper on “Rethinking the Mystery of Reconciliation in the Liturgical Context”. The paper raises ques- tions regarding what the Church may be missing vis-à-vis the mercy of God in the context of communal and individual concerns. The Russian Orthodox broke communion, prompting a need for reconciliation between bishops. Due to the lack of a confessor, some Orthodox Christians may never experi- ence confession. How do they participate in reconciliation? Is reconciliation merely focused on spiritual direction, only one part of reconciliation with the rite, which is often not used? How do renunciation and confession of faith occur in more than one mystery of the church? There is great diversity in the Orthodox tradition, as there is no editio typica for liturgical rites. However, the Orthodox Church is averse to change. Without resolving all the questions, the paper explores avenues naming the sins of our time, prayer of confession, lament, and abuse of power as connected to the need for reconciliation.

Other Work and Plans for the Future: Garrick Comeau was selected as convener for the next three years. A future topic was brought forward: What are the gaps between what we celebrate liturgically and what the people of God believe and live? Possible books to guide discussion on the theme in 2021:

  • Thomas O’Loughlin, Eating Together Becoming One: Taking up Pope Francis’s Call to, Liturgical Press, 2019.
  • Mary McGann, The Meal that Reconnects: Eucharistic Eating and the Global Food Crisis. Liturgical Press, 2020.
  • Michael Gallagher, Clashing Symbols: An Introduction to Faith and Paulist Press, 1998, 2005.
  • Dennis Chriszt’s revised book on Mystagogy
  • Update on the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults

Seminar Report 2019

Convener

Diana Dudoit Raiche, PhD, Associate Professor in the Anne & Joe Neuhoff School of Ministry at the University of Dallas.

Members in Attendance

David B. Batchelder, Daniel Benedict, Dennis Chriszt, Sandra deMassi, Chris James, Mark Stamm, Vicky Tufano, Paul Turner, Steven Wilbricht

Visitors in Attendance

Timothy Gabrielli, Larry Mick, Kyle Turner

Description of Work

The Christian Initiation Seminar asks questions that stand at the intersection of a classic ordo for Christian Initiation and the ongoing formation of the church. The work of the Christian Initiation Seminar this year began with introductions and a scan of circumstances that prevented long-standing members from being present at the Denver meeting. After making an adjustment in the agenda, seminar members presented papers and a book dealing with the implications of baptism for Christian living, marriage, and funerals; a comparison of confirmation rites among three ecclesial communions; and a scan of training on the catechumenate occurring around the country.

Papers and Presentations

  • David Batchelder presented his paper on “Christian Initiation in a Post-Truth World”, which focuses our attention on Christian identity and the na- ture of formation that both precedes and follows baptism. Living a life from baptism means one is required to focus on the ethics of baptism. For example, baptismal living calls one to consider that there must be something wrong with what is happening at the border or it is a form of protest at whatever is wrong in our society. David urges us to look at street art as a message about what is happening in our culture. It is a form of truth to which Christians need to pay attention.
  • Paul Turner followed with an article “On Paper and On Air: The Books and Broadcasts of Christian Initiation of Pope Francis” that he was invited to write for Liturgy, the Journal of the Liturgical His recap of the article is based on his knowledge of the Roman Missal and having watched the Easter Vigil rituals on live TV from the Vatican. Paul offers a critique of several ritual actions, described gesture-by-gesture. Paul’s closing question was: What is the overall evaluation of the published rite and what actually happens? Things happen in the ritual moment that are not in the published rite. The locus of theology is what happens in the experience. Sometimes going back to the book improves practice. Sometimes examining practice helps to correct the ritual text. He reminded the seminar participants that the revised version of RCIA should be available in the next year or two.
  • David Batchelder presented the rite of Confirmation in the new Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (PCUSA). Presbyterians do not consider confirmation a sacrament, but the rite includes a signing with The new ritual book follows the lead of Pope Francis in shortening the rites and the name confirmation reappears in the new ritual book. How do we account for that? More Presbyterians have a multi-denominational background. Fewer and fewer are purist Presbyterians from birth. Ritually, there is less biblical text provided than the 1993 text. More options are sometimes confusing and the challenge of getting people to use the book in the first place is considerable. In terms of polity, confirmation means taking on adult responsibilities as a member of the church, which means one can serve an ordained office and can vote. The value of ritual books is that they teaches Presbyterians how to read rubrics. However, the primacy to individual experience still holds in making ritual decisions.
  • Paul Turner presented on the new translation of the Order of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic He addressed the issue of the translation in 2016 amid very little public debate. The rite repeats some of what was included in the missal. The first translation was deemed inadequate as it denied the filioque. Theological terms were sensitive to the proper translation. With regard to the “hand” the discussion revolved about singular and plural and about laying on the hand or laying on of the hands or imposing hands. Historically the bishop dipped the thumb into the oil and the resting of one hand and signing the forehead with oil. Examples: Guide the candidate to a deeper understanding of confirmation as if by hand. St. Paul laid his hands on certain people. Praying for the seven-fold gift of the holy spirit. Minister places his hands on each candidate individually rather than raising hands over candidates as a group. The Apostolic Constitution draws a connection between hand laying and laying on of hands or the laying on of a hand. With regard to parents of the candidates, canon law does not allow parents to stand in as a confirmation sponsor. Translators strive for the best ways to use language in a way that is gender inclusive. The revised ritual is only about translations.
  • Steve Wilbricht presented his book, Baptismal Ecclesiology and the Order of Christian Funerals Rites of Passage. The discussion focused on how we lose the sense of the Christian community and become more individualistic, which Wilbricht attributes this individualistic notion to Augustine’s notion of Original Sin. He posits that Vatican II aimed to restore the vigil, funeral, burial as a three-stage notion of death to help restore the sense of progression with a community, a united people, a pilgrim people, a holy people, etc. While the Order of Christian Funerals has changed, the Christian culture is still very individualistic. A strong baptismal ecclesiology will help return the sense of community to the Christian culture. The seminar discussion centered about the privatization of funerals and all of the sacraments and Christian life.
  • Mark Stamm presented a paper entitled “‘Intercessions for the Church and the World’ intended for use within ‘A Service of Christian Marriage I’: Text and Rationale” in the United Methodist He views the work of intercessory prayer as a baptismal vocation. Baptismal vocation is a key to Mark’s teaching; the work of the pastor is one aspect of baptismal vocation, and if married, then you are bi-vocational. That is news to many who are heirs to the Protestant Reformation. The background of the piece is the idea of seeing marriage as sacramental in the Methodist tradition or even ordination as sacramental through the baptismal lens. The final task of the Seminar was to hear about the updates on the Status of Christian Initiation Seminars and Trainings since last year.
  • Vicky Tufano handed out a brochure on LTP training regarding the catechu- menate and described the Summer Workshop in 2018 held in Chicago. There will be another such training session July 2-3, 2019 in Chicago, IL.
  • Diana Dudoit Raiche reported that the Diocese of Dallas held a Training Day on the Catechumenate at the University of Dallas in August in English and a corresponding Training Day in Spanish at a Retreat Center Summer 2018. Collaborating with the University of Dallas Ministry Conference, the Diocese of Dallas Office of Worship brought in TeamRCIA to give a series of six (6) workshop sessions on the catechumenate in the fall 2018.
  • Mark Stamm reminded the group that Leaders Living and Dying Baptismally 2013-2016 were Five Events related to the catechumenate held in the Methodist Tradition in The Ancient Catechumenate and Class Meetings ac-cording to Wesley Serious Intentional Living was funded by grant money. In 2018 there were a number of FDLC Virtual Workshops on different aspects of the catechumenate. Seminar participants were encouraged to bring news of other training sessions on the catechumenate to the Seminar 2020 in Atlanta.

Other Work and Plans for the Future

The Christian Initiation Seminar would like to explore the Vice President’s 2019 address. It is challenging and has implications for our work in the CI Seminar. The follow up to Bruce Morrill’s address is to be developed. One possibility is to invite him to our seminar in 2020 and/or look at a Week of Sundays.