What is the RCIA?
By Frank C. Sokol
Used with Permission
THE RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process by which people become members of the Roman Catholic Church. The process is concerned with the total formation of the person into believing with the Church community (doctrinal formation), living with the Church community (practical formation), praying with the Church community (liturgical formation), and serving with the Church community (apostolic formation). This gradual development culminates in the celebration of the initiation sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist at Easter time.
The central and unifying principle of the Rite is conversion. By entering into the conversion journey through the RCIA, people join the paschal journey of Jesus Christ and are introduced to Church doctrine, life, liturgy, and apostolic work. The Rite thus broadens the practice of “convert instruction” to allow for an all-inclusive and ongoing formation in the faith. The gospel message of conversion is the reason for becoming a Catholic Christian and the reason for remaining one.
The Rite is designed primarily for those seeking baptism; that is, those not baptized previously. However, because of the nature of conversion as an ongoing reality, the RCIA can be adapted for those baptized in other Christian denominations, now seeking membership in the Roman Catholic Church.
As such, the RCIA is a flexible process which respects the faith development of each individual while maintaining the ideals and visions of the Catholic community.
The Rite of Christian Initiation can be likened to the “making” of a new family member. As the new member grows into the particular ways of a family's living, the various members share their values, beliefs, and visions. In this interaction the family creates itself anew; it creates its own identity. This “making” necessarily involves not only the formation of a new member, but the formation of the family itself.
By way of another example: in the making of an American, one applies for citizenship in a country defined by certain geography and given principles. In “becoming” a new citizen, one appropriates the “meaning” of America, and in the process, America realizes itself by the passing on and living out of its system of meanings. When Americans are “made,” therefore, so is America. In a parallel vein, when Christians are made, the Church is born again, by the passing on and living out of its system of meanings. In a strict sense, the RCIA is the process to be followed for becoming a Catholic Christian as an adult. But in fuller sense, this process for becoming is also the model for remaining a Catholic Christian.
Are you in search of a deeper relationship with God?
Are you interested in learning about Christian initiation, Christianity, the Catholic Faith?
Have you been attending the Catholic Church, Mass, for years but just never “gotten around” to joining?
Would you like to be Baptized? Most Catholic Churches offer an opportunity to help you answer these questions and more. We call it the RCIA, or the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults. The RCIA consists of:
Meeting with other inquirers to pray and share questions and concerns of faith within the confines of Christianity.
Catholic RCIA, Right of Christian Initiation is an opportunity to share life's experiences and the time to reflect on them. Learn about the tradition and history of the 2000 year old Catholic Church, while experiencing our beliefs and worship. Being connected to a community that worships together, seeks to serve others, and joins in fellowship.
Search for Catholic Churches
If you think you might be interested or know someone whom you think would be interested in the Catholic RCIA Classes, please, feel free to call the Roman Catholic church in your area. In most communities you will find Catholic Churches. There are thousands of people who convert to Christianity each year and there are just as many reasons. But they all usually go through the same procedure. They may have a spouse, family member or a friend that is Catholic and attends Mass. Some feel as if they have heard an inner calling that they do not quite understand. Some simply can't put there finger on it. They just came in out of the rain so to speak, to take a closer look at Christianity through the Catholic Church.
To become Roman Catholic, you don’t have to be any certain age. People can convert at any age and time during their life. I have seen some people go through the process and fall short of baptism only to show up the next year and go through it again. I myself attended Mass a few times a year with my Catholic wife for 18 years before I attended the Catholic RCIA, Right of Christian Initiation classes. It is a place with a clearly marked exit sign if you wish to use it. You can come and you can go as you wish. We are a Church that does not revel in numbers. Nor do we pride ourselves in converting another. At least we try not to. Conversion to Christ can't come to you by way of one of us, it has to be from Christ, the only one that can truly pierce a heart as the twelve apostes confirmed.
Most members of the Roman Catholic Church are baptized as infants. They grow up in Roman Catholic homes, receive some form of religious education and gradually come to share in the full sacramental life of the church with God, His Son Jesus, Their most Holy Spirit, along with Mary and all the Saints.. Others who were previously baptized in other Christian traditions -- become Catholics after making a solemn profession of faith, receiving communion and sharing Eucharist with the Catholic community. And still others -- those who were not previously baptized - enter into a process that includes all three of the sacraments of Initiation. The process by which these persons prepare to receive the sacraments is called ....the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults,
or the Catholic RCIA. Before converting to any religion, you should immerse yourself in knowledge. Although this is not required! This is your journey, these are your classes. There is no passing nor failing at the end of the Catholic RCIA Classes. Although inquiring about about the Roman Catholic, Apostolic faith should not be taken lightly, as there are 25,000 different Christian off shoots from the Catholic Church all clamoring for your Soul. If God is calling you to come to know Him through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit I can't think of a better place to start than the Church Jesus Himself Established 2002 years ago. The church recognizes that faith cannot be artificially accepted, that motives must be questioned and evaluated, and that the whole community needs to be renewed. Roman Catholic RCIA is not a program nor part of a Religious Education instructional course of study. It is a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful.
"From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. The apostles journeyed with Jesus for three years before they were rewarded with the last supper-Holy Communion. And then Pentacost where they were given the Holy Spirit to guide them. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion with Mary, the Apostles and all the Saints.. This initiation has varied greatly through the centuries according to circumstances. In the first centuries of the Church, Christian initiation saw considerable development. A long period of catechumenate included a series of preparatory rites, which were liturgical landmarks along the path of catechumenal preparation and culminated in the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1229, 1230) The RCIA classes are usually held once a week. At these classes, you will learn the fundamentals of Catholicism. As you learn, you will see there is much to learn about being a Roman Catholic. The RCIA stresses the connections between the three sacraments of Christian initiation, Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. During the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night, the elect are welcomed into the Church and receive these sacraments.