of catechumenal preparation and culminated in the celebration of the
sacraments of Christian initiation.
Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacra-
ment is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the
preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its
very nature infant Baptism requires a
only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary
flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The
proper place here.
The second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church “the
catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps.”
for these stages are to be found in the
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
The Council also gives permission that: “In mission countries,
in addition to what is furnished by the Christian tradition, those elements
of initiation rites may be admitted which are already in use among some
peoples insofar as they can be adapted to the Christian ritual.”
Today in all the rites, Latin and Eastern, the Christian initiation
of adults begins with their entry into the catechumenate and reaches its
culmination in a single celebration of the three sacraments of initiation:
Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
In the Eastern rites the Chris-
tian initiation of infants also begins with Baptism followed immediately
by Confirmation and the Eucharist, while in the Roman rite it is followed
by years of catechesis before being completed later by Confirmation and
the Eucharist, the summit of their Christian initiation.
The mystagogy of the celebration
The meaning and grace of the sacrament of Baptism are
clearly seen in the rites of its celebration. By following the gestures
and words of this celebration with attentive participation, the
faithful are initiated into the riches this sacrament signifies and
actually brings about in each newly baptized person.
sign of the cross,
on the threshold of the celebration, marks
with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and
signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross.
The proclamation of the Word of God enlightens the can-
didates and the assembly with the revealed truth and elicits the
response of faith, which is inseparable from Baptism. Indeed Bap-
tism is “the sacrament of faith” in a particular way, since it is the
sacramental entry into the life of faith.
35 Cf. RCIA (1972).
37 Cf. AG 14; CIC, cann. 851; 865; 866.
38 Cf. CIC, cann. 851, 2°; 868.