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R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is a process of rites, learning and spiritual experiences. By this process people desiring to become Catholic learn about the faith. They become more able to discern what God desires for their lives. There are stages to RCIA. In the first, Inquiry the inquirers explore the faith generally, to see if they believe joining the Church is for them at this time. In the second stage, the Catachumenate, they delve more deeply into the teaching, the traditions and the worship of the Catholic Church. Then, during Lent they enter the stage of Purification and Enlightenment during which the scrutinies are preformed. This leads up to their acceptance into the Church including Confirmation and the Eucharist for those who have already been baptized. The unbaptized also receive the Sacrament of Baptism, the gateway to all the others. After Easter comes a period of delving into the mysteries of the faith, called Mystagogy.
Catachumens,( those who are not baptized ) and candidates (those coming from other Christian traditions who have been baptized) meet weekly for study and prayer on Monday nights. They also meet Sunday mornings, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, to discuss the scripture they have just heard read at mass.Many people are involved in teaching RCIA including our priests and deacons and laypeople with experience in teaching and sharing the truths of our faith. Our candidates and catachumens learn about the doctines of our faith and experience many of the things that make Catholics unique. There is a visit to the Adoration Chapel, an explantion and recitation of the rosary,litanies, discussions of the many different devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, discussion of the lives of many saints and rites that are part of the RCIA process. Please contact Kathy Williams, 968-6645.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your sould will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light." Matthew 11:28-30
There are many reasons for you to become involved in this process. Does any of these fit you?
- I have never been baptized.
- I have been baptized in another Christian religion and wish to become Catholic.
- I have been baptized Catholic, but have not received any other sacraments.
- I am interested in learning more about the Catholic Church.
- I am unbaptized but recognize a need for spirituality in my life.
- I am baptized Catholic but never received any formal religious education.
- I am married to a Catholic and attend Mass but just don't know what the next step is to become one of the Catholic faithful.
- I am yearning for something more in my life.
Once you have decided that you need answers to your burning questions, the journey begins! This is the inquiry stage. We try to answer your questions and arm you with information that will correct any misinformation or incorrect impressions you might have. We do this through informal discussions that we hope will help us acquaint you with the Catholic Church and allow you to hear the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. This inquiry stage lasts as long as you the inquirer needs it to last. The foremost question is, "Do I want to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Tradition?"
During this period, inquirers may decide to consider becoming members of the Catholic Church, and, if so, they enter into another period of the R.C.I.A. journey, the Catechumenate. This transition is marked by the Rite of Acceptance.
This second stage of your journey, the Catechumenate, is the first step in the commitment leading to full membership in the Catholic Church. Catechumenate means "time of serious study." The candidates and catechumens already have come to faith in Christ Jesus and long to become members of the Church. They join the Catholic community at Mass on Sunday, celebrating the Liturgy of the Word together. However, because they are not yet in communion with the believers, they are "dismissed" or sent out with an R.C.I.A. team member to reflect upon the Sunday readings and feed upon the Word of the Lord. This time nurtures union with Christ through sharing faith and witnessing in a small and intimate community of faith. Catechumens and candidates also are given godparents and sponsors as companions in the faith journey. Stories from the Sunday lectionary, Scripture, and personal experiences encourage a readiness of spirit for membership in the Church. In this period, the initial conversion is deepended and strengthened. The love and knowledge of the Lord and His Church grows. When ready, the candidates and catechumens go through the Rite of Election. After that rite, they are called "the elect."
The third stage is Purification and Enlightenment During Lent, this last stage of preparation is an intense time, filled with prayers, fasting and reflection. The elect now experience scrutinies and exorcisms, special rites sealing their break from darkness andpreparing them for a life in the Son. Throughout this period, the elect are called to join with the whole Church in deeper practices of works of charity and fasting. Also, the readings at the Mass follow the theme of continuing conversion. Near the end of this period, the elect are given the Creed, the summary of our faith, and the Lord's Prayer by the Church.
Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation, ends the journey of your preparation for entrance into the Catholic community. The sacraments of initiation are celebrated at the Easter Vigil. It is the most significant moment of the ligurgical year. On this night, you, the elect, enter fully into the Church. The Catholic family grows and the Church joyfully now welcomes you.
The Easter Vigil is marked by:
- Blessing of water -- The presider prays that God will make the water holy so that all baptized in it will washed clean of sin and welcomed into the family of believers as children of God.
- Renunciation of sin by the elect -- The elect are asked together if they resolve to reject sin and live as God's children.
- Anointing with the oil of catechumens -- The elect are anointed with the oil of catechumens on the hands, the breast and, depending on local custom. During the anointing, the celebrant prays for the elect to be strengthened by the power of God.
- Profession of faith -- The candidates are questioned regarding their belief in the mysteries of the faith outlined in the Apostles' Creed.
- Baptism -- The candidates are baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. As the priest prays this, the candidates are either immersed in water or water is poured over their head.
- Clothing with the baptismal garment -- The neophytes, as they are now called after being baptized, are clothed with a simple white robe. This symbolizes their new life in Christ.
- Presentation of a lighted candle -- The godparents come forward to receive a candle lighted from the paschal candle then present it to the neophytes, symbolizing the enlightenment received through Christ.
- Laying on of hands -- The minister of the sacrament lays his hands over those to be confirmed, praying that God will send the Holy Spirit to them, as the apostles received the Spirit through Confirmation and laid hands on others in their missions.
- Anointing with chrism -- The godparent or sponsor comes forward and puts a right hand on the candidate's shoulder. The minister makes the sign of the cross with chrism on the forehead of each candidate and prays they may be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Liturgy of the Eucharist -- The newly initiated now join the community in celebrating the Eucharistic banquet, receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for the first time.
- Candidate: A person in the catechumenate who has been baptized, either in the Catholic Church or in another Christian Church, but who has not celebrated Confirmation and/or First Communion.
- Catechumen: A person in the catechumenate who has never been baptized.
- Catechumenate: The name given for the entire process of praying, learning, discussing and reflecting, which culminates in initiation into the Church at Easter.
- Elect: A catechumen or candidate who will receive the sacraments of initiation in a short time.
- Election: A liturgical celebration in which the bishop or one of his priests accepts the catechumen as ready and worthy to take part in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter.
- Godparent: A person selected by the person to be baptized or confirmed to be a friend and helper as he/she learns to become a Catholic.
- Initiation: The process by which a person enters the Church and becomes a member through celebrating Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
- Inquirer: A person who sincerely wants to ask questions and learn about the Catholic faith.
- Mystagogia: This refers to the time between Easter and Pentecost when the new Catholics share their faith with others in the community.
- Neophyte: A newly baptized person. The word means a "new shoot."
- Rite of Acceptance: Marks the first step into the Catholic Church. The inquirers receive the sign of the Cross on the ears, eyes, lips, shoulders, heart, hands and feet, for they will now join in the joys and trials of the Christian mission.
- Rite of Election: Celebration of God's call through the Church to the initiation sacraments celebrated at the Easter Vigil; accepts the candidates for the sacraments by the bishop.
- Sponsor: A person chosen by the Church to be a friend and helper of the person interesting in becoming Catholic.