RCIA - Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
“There is One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.” Ephesians 4:5
Through the parish community’s witness, the catechumens and candidates learn what it means to be a Catholic. The parish shares the traditions, values, beliefs, rituals and stories of what it means to be Catholic in such a manner that the catechumens and candidates begin to embrace and live their faith in daily life. An essential aspect of Catholic life is lived in the public sphere. Therefore, catechumens and candidates should be exposed to the social teachings of the Church. With a solid understanding of Catholic social teaching, they can live as faithful citizens. How Can I Become a Catholic?
Life is a journey that continually searches for meaning. The human heart hungers for relationships that nurture one’s maturity and ability to love and to be loved. Often as one seeks to fulfill these very human yearnings, the realization that something is missing from life is made. As one reflects upon this void, it is not unusual to discover that this something is God. This awakening may lead to a turning point in one’s life to commit to a relationship with God and seek out a worshipping community to guide one’s journey in faith. Many will ask the question: How can I become a Catholic?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the normal way for unbaptized persons and those who have been baptized in another Christian tradition to become a Catholic.
What is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the order for initiation into the Catholic Church.
For the Unbaptized, the RCIA gradually uncovers the story of God’s salvation for all; the mystery of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection; and the workings of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the beliefs, sacramental life and spiritual practices of the Catholic Church. Within the setting of a parish community and in accordance with the Church’s liturgical year, “this process of formation includes four stages as well as rituals which mark these stages” (National Directory for Catechesis, 35).
For Baptized Christians who seek full communion with the Catholic Church, the RCIA includes rites and pastoral practice.
For Baptized Catholics who have received no other faith formation and have not received the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist, the RCIA mentions pastoral practices to become a fully initiated Catholic. The following outlines the periods (stages) and steps (rituals) for the order of Christian Initiation of Unbaptized Adults.
Period of Evangelization and Pre-catechumenate This is a time of no fixed duration or structure, for inquiry and introduction to Gospel values, an opportunity for the beginnings of faith.
First Step: The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens This is the liturgical rite, usually celebrated on some annual date or dates, marking the beginning of the catechumenate proper, as the candidates express and the Church accepts their intention to respond to God's call to follow the way of Christ.
Period of the Catechumenate This is the time, in duration corresponding to the progress of the individual, for the nurturing and growth of the catechumens' faith and conversion to God; celebration of the word and prayers of exorcism and blessing are meant to assist the process.
Second Step: Election Or Enrollment Of Names This is the liturgical rite, usually celebrated on the First Sunday of Lent, by which the Church formally ratifies the catechumens' readiness for the sacraments of initiation and the catechumens, now the elect, express the will to receive these sacraments.
Period Of Purification and Enlightenment This is the time, immediately preceding the elects' initiation, usually the Lenten season preceding the celebration of this initiation at the Easter Vigil; it is a time of reflection, intensely centered on conversion, marked by celebration of the scrutinies and presentations and of the preparation rites on Holy Saturday.
Third Step: Celebration Of The Sacraments Of Initiation This is the liturgical rite, usually integrated into the Easter Vigil, by which the elect are initiated through baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist.
Period of Postbaptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy
This is the time, usually the Easter season, following the celebration of the initiation, during which the newly initiated experience being fully a part of the Christian community by means of pertinent catechesis and particularly by participation with all the faithful in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration.