The Roman Catholic Diocese Of Lubbock
Most Reverend Robert M. Coerver, S.T.L., M.S.
Bishop Of Lubbock

15. April, 2012Default Comments Off on RCIA

Where do you begin?

Well, you just begin where you are now!

Many adults entering the Catholic Church, or those just considering it, follow a process known as the RCIA — the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

The RCIA process has several distinct stages. These Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of faith development itself, so this article will fit you whether or not you are actually in the RCIA process.

Inquiry: This is the initial period before you decide to enter the Catholic Church. You are asking questions and checking it out, but aren’t yet ready to commit.

Catechumenate: Those who decide to enter the Church and are being trained for a life in Christ are called catechumens, an ancient name from the early days of the Church. In this stage, you are developing your faith and are being “catechized” — learning catechism, or the basic points, facts and history of our Catholic faith and life.

Purification and preparation: The Church will help you focus and intensify your faith as you prepare to commit your life to Christ and be received into the Church at Easter. If you are following the RCIA process, you will go through a beautiful series of Gospel-based meditations during Lent, which is the time frame of this period.
Initiation is the culmination of the whole process! You are received into the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass where you will receive the sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist. (If you were previously baptized, either in the Catholic faith or another, you will not be baptized again.)

Mystagogy: After reception into the Church at Easter, this period encourages you to reflect and learn more about the mysteries of the Mass and the Sacraments that you now participate in fully. Adult Faith Formation/Continuation classes are offered on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings at the church.

Below is a discussion of each of these Catholic RCIA stages:

Laying a strong faith foundation: Faith will be the foundation of your life. Make that foundation solid!

Go slowly; make sure you understand the basics. This will help you avoid discouragement and frustration, two big enemies of faith development.

Also be aware of the importance of orthodoxy in the information you receive. (“Orthodoxy” here means “accurate and faithful” teaching.)

Make certain that you are satisfied with your own faith development in each of the Catholic RCIA stages before moving on to the next. Do not let pressure from anyone else be the reason you move on with the process. Also watch out for calendar-based pressure — don’t say things like, “If I don’t start catechesis now, I won’t be done this Easter!” That’s the wrong basis for making a decision about your faith and your life! This is a lifetime decision and should be undertaken with all the information and knowledge you can acquire. There is no time limit. God is patient!

Sometimes it seems like it takes a long time to work through all of the Catholic RCIA stages. Don’t rush it! There is so much to cover, so much to take in and understand. Take your time and only move forward when you are at peace with your decision.

RCIA Stage 1: Just Looking

In the inquiry stage, you are just finding out about Jesus, Christianity, and the Catholic Church.

Your main task here is to explore and develop your faith confidently in order for you to make an informed initial decision about entering the Catholic Church. The final decision won’t come for a while, when you actually enter the Church at Easter and receive the sacraments of initiation.

The RCIA Inquiry Stage page has detailed information and guidance for you during this period.

Even if you are past the Inquirer Stage, you should still read that section to make certain you have covered the right ground. You will need to rely on that foundation later!

RCIA Stage 2: Learning about the Faith

In the Catechumenate, your faith has begun to develop. Now you need to learn more and grow more.

Your focus is on catechesis in this stage: learning about the faith, how to live as a Christian, and developing your interior life.

Your job now is to come into closer contact with the Living God and learn more about the Catholic Faith.

RCIA Stage 3: Getting ready for rebirth!

This period of purification and enlightenment is the final stage before receiving the Easter sacraments of initiation into the Church: baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist. (Those already baptized with a valid baptism in another Christian faith or in the Catholic Church are not baptized again.)

This stage of intense reflection calls you to deeper conversion in preparation for your renewal at Easter. This is what the season of Lent is for, but it has a special intensity for you as you enter the Church and receive the sacraments of initiation.

The Church uses three profound and beautiful passages from the Gospel of John to focus on this preparation effort.

RCIA stage 4: Reflecting on the mysteries of the Mass

This stage of Mystagogy during and after Easter is for continued reflection on the sacraments you have received at Easter, especially the Eucharist.

Specific catechesis on the Mass, the Sacraments, and especially the Eucharist are the focus of this stage.

The Mass and the Eucharist are the “source and summit” of Christian life in the Catholic Church, and this period is designed to help you understand, appreciate and live more deeply this center of Catholicism.

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Remember that the Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of basic faith development. You can learn a lot from them even if you are not in the RCIA process.