Monday, March 28, 2011

Quick Q&A on the Scrutinies

On the Journey Series: RCIA Catechist's Manual,
"Introduction to Christian Initiation," p. 18.
(click image for a larger view)
During Mass last Sunday, Fr. John started the “scrutinies” for the people in the RCIA process. Can you explain a little more about what the scrutinies are?

The RCIA book has a very helpful summary of the scrutinies in its treatment of the rites belonging to the “Purification and Enlightenment” period of the RCIA process. It reads:
141 The scrutinies, which are solemnly celebrated on Sundays and are reinforced by an exorcism, are rites for self-searching and repentance and have above all a spiritual purpose. The scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good. For the scrutinies are celebrated in order to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. These rites, therefore, should complete the conversion of the elect and deepen their resolve to hold fast to Christ and to carry out their decision to love God above all.

142 Because they are asking for the three sacraments of initiation, the elect must have the intention of achieving an intimate knowledge of Christ and his Church, and they are expected particularly to progress in genuine self-knowledge through serious examination of their lives and true repentance.

143 In order to inspire in the elect a desire for purification and redemption by Christ, three scrutinies are celebrated. By this means, first of all, the elect are instructed gradually about the mystery of sin, from which the whole world and every person longs to be delivered and thus saved from its present and future consequences. Second, their spirit is filled with Christ the Redeemer, who is the living water (gospel of the Samaritan woman in the first scrutiny), the light of the world (gospel of the man born blind in the second scrutiny), the resurrection and the life (gospel of Lazarus in the third scrutiny). From the first to the final scrutiny the elect should progress in their perception of sin and their desire for salvation.

144 In the rite of exorcism, which is celebrated by a priest or a deacon, the elect, who have already learned from the Church as their mother the mystery of deliverance from sin by Christ, are freed from the effects of sin and from the influence of the devil. They receive new strength in the midst of their spiritual journey and they open their hearts to receive the gifts of the Savior.
A quick note about the “exorcism” that takes place. This is a minor exorcism, so the intention is not to expel a demon or cure someone who is possessed, but instead to simply bless the elect and protect them from sin and the power of Satan.

Pax Christi,

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Time to Check In on the Formspring

Do you see that box in my left sidebar? Yea, the one you can type in, that's it. Well, I've been very neglectful of the poor thing. I don't look at her any more or even listen to what she has to say. Before we have a messy divorce and she takes everything "but mah bones" (Star Trek anyone?), I have decided to give her some attention and answer the questions that you have so lovingly given her.

Where is the most embarrassing place your cell phone has gone off?
In the confessional. Very embarrassing! Thankfully, the priest was also very understanding.

When Jesus died, he descended to hell to free those who were waiting for the Christ and were worthy of heaven. This implies that everyone went to hell(which has been defined as a total separation from God) that died before Jesus opened the gates of heaven. I don't get it.
Hades, as I understand it, was the abode of the dead where all souls went when they died. Within Hades, the righteous dwelt in the bosom of Abraham and the unrighteous experienced the fire and gnashing of teeth that we typically associate with hell. Gehenna is the name given for that portion of Hades that housed the unrighteous.

When Jesus descends into "hell" (Hades) he goes to where the righteous dwell, to preach the Gospel to them and allow them an explicit faith in Him. Then, He empties Hades of all the righteous souls, leading them to heaven. What remains is Gehenna, or "hell" as we typically understand it.

So, to summarize, every one went to Hades when they died, but their experience of Hades depended on how they lived their life. It should also be noted that even the righteous souls who dwelt in the bosom of Abraham experienced some sense of separation from the Lord. Hades probably provided some comfort, but the righteous were still devoid of the Beatific Vision and the unmediated presence of our Trinitarian Lord. That is why Hades, even for the righteous, is a sort of prison that they long to escape. Jesus, of course, is the answer to that longing.

For more on this, including all of the Scriptural evidence, see my two debates on this topic:

What does "phat" stand for?
My username is "phatcatholic" because of my association with Phatmass, where we Preach Holy Apostolic Truth.

In the readings for today, Gen 6:1-4 (New Jerusalem) they speak of "Sons of God and Daughters of Man". Can you explain?
See "Angels and Saints: Part 4" for my analysis of Gen 6 from back in 2007.

What is a professional catechist? What does he do?
A catechist is someone who teaches and/or passes on the Catholic faith. The word "catechist", like the other "cat-" words (catechesis, catechism, catechumenate, catechetics, etc.), comes from the Greek word katekhizein, which means "to echo down." As a catechist, that is essentially what I do: I take the echo of the faith that has reverberated through these many centuries, safeguarded by and entrusted to the Church, and send it out so that it can transform hearts and minds in its wake.

What are the precepts of the Church?
Funny you should ask! See my recent post, appropriately titled, "The Precepts of the Church."

That should do for now. There are still more questions left to answer, but I should not dote on the formspring, lest she begin to think too highly of herself.

Pax Christi,
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