Oct 28, 2018
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is one of the most successful features of post-Vatican II liturgical renewal. It replaced the old inquiry class model, in which the priest (generally a priest) taught the inquirer (or inquirers) about doctrine and morals. The place of formation was the classroom, the symbol was the blackboard, and the leader was like a lecturer. This model continues in some parishes today.
With the near demise of the inquiry class model after Vatican II, there emerged a second (and current) model which focuses on personal religious experience in a group setting. The model is akin to the therapy group (like that of Alcoholics Anonymous). The place of formation is like a living room, the leader is a therapist, and the symbol is the mirror – in which one sees only oneself.
In this newer approach, it is commonplace to hear an emphasis on personal experience over doctrine. Doctrinal formation is secondary to personal story-telling and group reflection.
Without wishing to return to the old inquiry class format, or keeping the current experience-based model, there is, perhaps, a third way of viewing and practicing RCIA formation which would avoid the problems of the first and second models, yet incorporate the strengths of both.