RCIA – Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
RCIA is a process of conversion that provides faith formation, instruction, spiritual enrichment and preparation for the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
The process is divided into periods and the periods are marked by the celebration of Rites. When the candidate feels ready and shows signs of transformation and the Church discerns his/her readiness perceived by their continuous opening to Jesus and relating to Jesus as their Savior, they are initiated at the Easter Vigil.
The participants who are not baptized are known as ‘catechumens’ and those baptized but never catechized, or baptized in a valid Christian denomination are considered ‘candidates.’
The periods of RCIA are:
Inquiry – this is when the person comes to ask questions and to look into the opportunity to answer a call. This candidate may show signs of the Holy Spirit stirring in his/her heart.
Catechumenate – the period of preparation effected by entering into the Word proclaimed and applying the message received to their life. This is the beginning of openness and awakening to union with the Person of Jesus.
Purification and Enlightenment – this third period takes place during Lent, when the candidates/catechumens look thoroughly and deeply into their spiritual life and become aware of the steps that they finally need to take to become members of the Body of Christ. A way to accomplish this is deeper prayer time and some distancing from material or worldly distractions. The customs of prayer, penance and fasting are common for this season together with spiritual activities available in the parish. A serious look into sin and means to avoid it are surfaced and dealt with.
Mystagogy – This is the last stage in the RCIA, the period of post-baptismal catechesis, whose name comes from the Greek word meaning “entering into the mystery.” The candidates have looked at the Paschal Mystery from afar, have gone through the Rites of Initiation and are now experiencing the journey of a neophyte Catholic. This period lasts for a year and the newly baptized/received are taking the first steps into a deeper communion with the Lord by exploring the Paschal Mystery. We learn that formation is a lifelong process. So we continue the journey.
Vocabulary: Catechumen – a non-baptized person who enters the Order of the Catechumenate in preparation for Christian Initiation.
Candidate – an un-catechized, baptized Catholic or a person that receives a valid baptism in a Christian denomination who seeks further preparation for the sacraments of initiation.
Valid baptism – a celebration of baptism that uses the Trinitarian formula (in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and uses the proper use of water, submersion/pouring over the head.
Sponsor – a practicing Catholic who serves as a representative of the community in assisting a candidate in his/her journey of initiation.
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