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Part Two

of catechumenal preparation and culminated in the celebration of the

sacraments of Christian initiation.

1231

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

post-baptismal catechumenate.

Not

only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary

flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The

catechism

has its

proper place here.

1232

The second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church “the

catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps.”

34

The rites

for these stages are to be found in the

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

(

RCIA

).

35

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.”

36

1233

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.

37

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.

38

The mystagogy of the celebration

1234

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.

1235

The

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.

1236

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.

34

SC

64.

35 Cf. RCIA (1972).

36

SC

65; cf.

SC

37-40.

37 Cf. AG 14; CIC, cann. 851; 865; 866.

38 Cf. CIC, cann. 851, 2°; 868.

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