Unlike children, who are taught about the Church and come to full membership through the Sacramental Preparation program, adults who choose to join the Catholic Church, or who are interested in exploring the Catholic Faith, attend classes at their local parish.
These classes take adults through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), and are the way adults come to learn about and experience the Christian life, specifically our Roman Catholic tradition; and become initiated into the life of our Church through the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist).
The RCIA is not new. It is a return to the earliest traditions of our Church which took place between the second and the fifth centuries of the Christian era. The RCIA is an integral part of the Church's, and a particular parish's, Christian community. The whole community is called to reflect upon the value of their faith, to renew their own conversion, and by their example, to lead those who are searching to be open to the presence of the Spirit in their lives.
The RCIA begins with a period of inquiry and maturing. This is a time for hearing the first preaching of the Gospel, and is a time of prayer and reflection. The end of this period is celebrated by the whole community: The Rite of Becoming A Catechumen.
The second period is called the Catechumenate. This is a time of more intense preaching and teaching of the Gospel, prayer, spiritual direction, catechesis (religious instruction given with a catechism in preparation for Christian baptism or confirmation). During this period, specific Roman Catholic traditions are handed on. This period ends with The Rite of Election, when the catechumens are ready to respond totally to God's call of faith through the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
The third period takes place during Lent. It is a time of purification and enlightenment or illumination for a more profound spiritual preparation. Its focus and conclusion is the Easter Vigil celebration and the Sacraments of Initiation.
The final period takes place during the Easter Season. The newly baptized are able to deepen their experience of the Sacraments and of being new members of the Christian community.
If you are interested in being initiated into the Roman Catholic Church, please consider attending Mass at a nearby parish and contact that parish to enquire if they have an RCIA program.
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