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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 Initiation

       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!