Date of Award
Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2019.
Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)
One of the most important innovations of Vatican II is the restoration of the Catechumenate and its integration into the Lenten and Easter celebrations as practiced in the early centuries of Christianity. But it is surprising that in the Philippines in general and in the Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe in particular, the RCIA is not yet in place. I would like, therefore, to argue in this paper that the implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) in Bontoc-Lagawe could revitalize the Basic Ecclesial Communities of the vicariate. The BEC experience, in which I was immersed and formed, is the context, presenting some pastoral-liturgical challenges that jumpstarts my research. The RCIA experiences I have here in the USA, deepened by my liturgical/sacramental theology formation at the Jesuit School of Theology provided the theological and practical frameworks that shed light to the challenging pastoral-liturgical practices in Bontoc-Lagawe. This enlightenment of the pastoral-liturgical context (BEC), through the RCIA theology and practice, strongly supports the implementation of the RCIA in Bontoc-Lagawe because the RCIA theology and practice can certainly revitalize the BECs of the vicariate.
This theological exploration on the RCIA will focus on the practice of the catechumenate integrated in the Lenten and Easter celebrations. It looks into how this RCIA theology and practice, with its vibrant ecclesiological vision, embodied in the images of the Body of Christ and the People of God and further expressed in liturgical preparation, celebration, and post-initiation catechesis, can revitalize the ecclesial, participative, and communal structures and processes of Church life in Bontoc-Lagawe. And to provide the overall trajectory of this paper, these two-fold general research questions will be undertaken. How can the RCIA provide vitality and opportunities for renewal in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation in the BECs of Bontoc-Lagawe? And how can the RCIA – with its underlying history, theology, rite, and pastoral practice provide new impetus for Bontoc-Lagawe’s journey towards a more participative community of disciples that is expressed in the way it prepares for, celebrates, and lives the sacraments of initiation?
The above general questions are answered in three chapters. The first chapter presents a historical evolution of the BEC-type church in the Philippines and how it emerged in Bontoc-Lagawe, with its current structures, values, principles, and practices. The building up of a participative, dialogic, and co-responsible church inspired by Vatican II’s communio ecclesiology led to the organization of chapel-based and neighborhood-based BECs, whose focus also evolved from liturgical participation to involvement in liberational and developmental concerns, respectively. After twenty six years of organizing, forming, and mobilizing BECs, there are still challenging practices in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation in Bontoc-Lagawe such as the disintegrated celebration of Baptism-Confirmation-Eucharist, the non-ecclesial and non- Eucharistic celebration of initiation, the non-integration of the initiation process in the Lenten and Easter celebrations, the mineralization of liturgical symbols and rituals, and the interruption of the flow of Baptism-Confirmation-Eucharist by the practice of receiving Holy Communion prior to Confirmation.
The above challenges can be corrected by the RCIA’s theology and practice, in the second chapter, that deals with the RCIA’s historical, theological, ritual, and consequent pastoral developments from the post-resurrection communities to the Patristic period, the middle ages, to the Council of Trent until Vatican II, and post-Vatican II. What is so telling is RCIA’s vigorous vision of the Church as the Body of Christ and the People of God that summons all the baptized to fully, actively, and consciously participate in the liturgy and the mission of the Church. The RCIA concretizes this by making the Christian community aware that ministry and service is the responsibility of the baptized who needs to minister as an initiating assembly that supports, inspires and journeys with the catechumens in their evangelization, conversion, initiation, and postinitiation catechesis. Additionally, the RCIA’s Trinitarian foundation, revealed through the paschal mystery of Christ, provides the theological reasons for celebrating Baptism- Confirmation-Eucharist together as an organically unified liturgical corpus. Furthermore, the RCIA affords a new perspective and model for sacramental catechesis based on serious theology for the whole community that is focused on evangelization and conversion into the way, the truth and the life of Jesus. This subsequently calls for a faith response and mission that challenges those baptized to live in communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and to participate in the paschal mystery—the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.
Chapter three, picking up on the prevailing RCIA theology and practice in chapter two, demonstrates that the RCIA can transform Bontoc-Lagawe BECs by helping in the attainment of the vicariate’s transformative directions towards a church of participation, communion, and mission. This is attainable through empowered lay ministries, communal living of the faith, engagement in total human salvation, inculturation of the liturgy, and the formation of self-reliant and missionary Christian communities. Furthermore, the RCIA theology and practice corrects the problematic liturgical practices in Bontoc-Lagawe by supporting an integrated, ecclesial and Eucharistic celebration of the sacraments of initiation, specially within the seasons of Lent and Easter, by maximizing liturgical rites and symbols, and by empowering the baptized to become evangelized-evangelizers. In the end, we can say that the RCIA’s implementation in Bontoc-Lagawe promises to revitalize the vicariate’s BECs. The RCIA achieves this as it helps in the fulfillment of Bontoc-Lagawe’s transformative directions, corrects the challenging practices of the sacraments of initiation in the vicariate, and assists in the attainment of the vision-mission-goal of Bontoc-Lagawe.
Tamang, Bento F., "The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults: Its Potential of Revitalizing The Basic Ecclesial Communities of Bontoc-Lagawe" (2019). Jesuit School of Theology Dissertations. 48.