SACRAMENTS OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION
PRELIMINARIES A. The term initiation comes from initium derived from the Latin presuppositions: in eo (within-inside). It pertains to the mysteries begun by pagan religions, mystery cults developed in the same period as Christianity
Odo Casel talks of initiation in reference to the pagan mysteries (Metamorphoses of Apuleio.)
P. Gy underlines the idea of initiation as the progressive walk in preparation to the mysteries; this is extraneous to ancient Christianity
A patristic notion exists of initiation: this consists in the sacramental rite of passage from the catechumenate state to the state of believers.
The Church would eventually use this word to designate the sacramental entrance in the life of the Church.
B. The term initiation designates the necessary levels through which one has to go through in order to enter the Church.
It deals with people who desire to meet the true mystery of life and so extend to a new experience that conducts them to the fullness of their existence.
Initiation deals with an entrance into a new life where one realizes himself in different levels that in time will be defined and constituted by the three Sacraments.
C. The Church has designated the word initiation to the three sacraments with constancy. Baptism conferred only once as the sacrament of entrance to the Church
Confirmation- conferred only once since they constitute the being and the action of a Christian
Eucharist- repeated as sacrament of continuous construction of the Church
the sacramental triad of the Christian initiation tells us: The Sacrament that gives the Christian being is Baptism, what gives the Christian action is Confirmation, while the sacrament of the complete membership in the New Covenant through the action of thanks is the Eucharist. The Church has never administered baptism lightly, rather
she has surrounded it with great demand, with a deep sense of community and with a great variety of rites.
The order with which they were conferred (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist), explains that these three sacraments are so tied up among themselves that it would not be possible to make one catechesis without treating the other two, at least in the apostolic period.
Tertullian, De Resurrectione, 8,3 CCLs 3, 931:
Caro abluitur, ut anima emacultetur; caro ungitur, ut anima consecretur, caro signatur, ut anima muniatur, caro manus impositione adumbratur, ut et anima spiritu inluminetur; caro corpore et sanguine Christi vescitur, ut et anima de Deo saginetur. D. The expression Christian Initiation is new in comparison to the linguistic tradition of the Western Christianity It is not found in the catechisms, in the manuals of theology and in the Summa Theologica of Scholasticism but the expression was not unknown to the patristic world.
The expression Christian Initiation is relatively current in the ecclesiastical language, (XVIII century).
the first author to employ the expression Christian Initiation to designate the Baptism, the Confirmation and the Eucharist, is L. Duchesne, whose work has had five editions: 1889, 1898, 1903, 1909 and 1925.
DUCHESNE, L., Origines du culte chrtien. tudes sur la liturgie latine avant Charlemagne, De Boccard, Paris 11889 (51925).
After Duchesne the term and the idea of Christian Initiation would take more and more footing, beginning from the liturgists to the theologians.
In the same work of Duchesne, to the cap. IX (P. 281) the following affirmation is found:
Christian initiation as the documents describe it, beginning from the second century, included Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion. It was never granted, at least in the ordinary cases, without a longer preparation. E. Vatican Council II would put again in vigor the concept of Christian initiation points to Christian formation that flows in the three sacraments of the baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
also the revives the notion of the catechumenate as a novelty and comes from the same Christian initiation.