Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
What is Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)?
RCIA is a process for those wishing to convert to Catholicism and for adult Catholics wanting to learn the foundation of their faith. The RCIA process has several distinct stages.
Just Looking! : The Inquiry
The initial period before you decide to enter the Catholic Church. You're asking questions and
checking it out but aren't yet ready to commit. At this stage, you're just finding out about Jesus,
Christianity, and the Catholic Church. Your main task here is to explore and develop your faith
enough so you can make an informed initial decision about entering the Catholic Church. The
final decision won't come for a long time, when you actually enter the Church at Easter and
receive the sacraments of initiation. This is the time to ask all and any questions that you might
have about the Catholic Church.
Learning About the Faith : The 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 Church. In this stage, you're developing your faith
and are being "catechized" - learning catechism, or the basic points about Catholic faith and life.
At this time, your faith has begun to develop. Now you need to learn and grow more. At this
stage, the focus is on catechesis: 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.
Getting Ready for Rebirth! : The 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're following the RCIA process, you'll go
through a beautiful series of Gospel-base meditations during Lent, which is the time frame of
this period. This period of purification and enlightenment is the final stage before receiving the
Easter sacraments of initiation into the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, and First Eucharist. This
stage of intense reflection calls you to a deeper conversion in preparation for your renewal at
Easter. This what the season of Lent is for, but it has a special intensity for those entering into the
Church and receiving the sacraments of initiation. During this time, the Church uses three
profound and beautiful passages from the Gospel of John (to focus this preparation effort), know
at the Scrutinies: The Samaritan Woman, The Blind Man, and The Rising of Lazarus (all taken
from the Gospel of John, cycle A).
The culmination of the whole process! You're received into the Church during the Easter Vigil
Mass, where you'll receive the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and First
Eucharist. (If you have already been baptized, you will not be baptized again).
Reflecting on the Mysteries of the Mass : The Mystagogy
After the reception into the Church at Easter, this period lets you reflect and learn more about the
mysteries of the Mass and the Sacraments that you now participate in fully. This stage of
mystagogy during 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 on this stage. Mass and the Eucharist are the "source and
summit" of the Christian life in the Catholic Church and this period is designed to help you
understand, appreciate, and live more deeply this center of Catholicism.
As you are going through the process or are considering going through the process, you will want to make sure that you're satisfied with your own development in each of the Catholic RCIA stages before moving on to the next stage. Don't let the pressure from anyone else make you move on or make you start the process. That would be the wrong basis for making a decision about your faith and your life. Don't rush it!