The Scrutinies

Since I went away to learn how to say the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass) last June, I have learned a great deal.  However, there are some things that perplex me.  I often wonder why things were changed, or done away with.  Was there a purpose?  Was it change for the sake of change?

In the Ordinary Form of the Mass, we have two major parts, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  In the Extraordinary Form, we have the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful.  On the 3rd Sunday of Lent we begin the Scrutines.  These are a set of prayers offered for those members of RCIA who are preparing for Baptism.  Those who are preparing for Baptism are called Catechumens.  Everything in the EF seems geared more toward the Rite of Christian Initiation than does the OF.

In the EF, the 3rd Sunday of Lent has the station of St. Laurence outside the walls.  In Rome of ancient times, there was a great procession lead by the catechumens, then the penitents, then the faithful, lastly the clergy and finally the Pope.  After entering the basilica of St. Lawrence, they would gather around the tomb of the martyr to seek his intercession against the devil.  “With eyes directed toward the sanctuary, they feel safe from the ‘snares’ of the enemy.”

The prayers of the EF all reinforce the prayers used in the Scrutinies. It makes me wonder why we took back the RCIA, but left behind the EF for something new.  Did those who created the OF not see this relationship between RCIA and the EF?

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About Fr. Jay Finelli

Father Jay Finelli is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence in the state of Rhode Island. He is a webmaster, podcaster, and blogger. In his free time, Father is an avid Live Steam enthusiast.

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