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Deacon Jim Collins
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Diácono Jim Collins


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The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.) names the process by which interested persons gradually become members of the Catholic Church.

The R.C.I.A. is primarily a journey of faith:

• through all the stages of asking and seeking,

• through beginning involvement with Christian/Catholic people,

• through hearing the Gospel proclaimed and by faithful reflection and prayer on the Word of God,

• through study and discussion about the Catholic experience,

• through doubts and hesitations,

• through involvement in the works of charity and justice with those already committed to the Catholic way of life,

• through discernment of God's call for them as individuals,

• through the steps of commitment, through the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) to a life of faith, love, and justice lived in communion with Catholics throughout the world.

Celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation

The Sacraments of Initiation are celebrated at the Easter Vigil, an extended night-watch of prayer, singing and hearing the Word of God.

By the waters of Baptism, a person passes into the new life of grace and becomes a member of the Body of Christ.

Anointing with special holy oil called chrism seals the initiation by the power of the Holy Spirit and participation at the Table of the Lord in the Eucharist marks full membership in the church.

Period of Mystagogy

The Period of Mystagogy lasts from Easter Sunday until the completion of the Easter season, fifty days later on Pentecost Sunday and completes the initiation process. Those who have just shared in the Sacraments of Initiation are now called Neophytes and during this period of Easter joy they reflect on what they have just gone through and look to the future as to how they can now share in the mission of Christ who came to bring salvation and life to the whole world. This period of time reminds the whole Church that life in Christ constantly calls us to grow and to look for new ways to live a life of grace, personally and together.

How long does it take?

The Rite of Christian Initiation is not a program.

It is the Church's way of ministering sensitively to those who seek membership. For that reason some people will need more time than others to prepare for the lifetime commitment that comes with membership in the Catholic Church. The usual length of preparation is from one to two years. For those already baptized and who seek full communion in the Catholic Church, the time may also vary.

It seems reasonable that catechumens or candidates experience the yearly calendar of Catholic practice at least one time around in order to make an informed decision. The process of spiritual renewal and catechesis should not be hasty, especially for those not accustomed to the fasts and feasts and Sundays and seasons the way Catholics observe them.

One of the best times for the sacraments of initiation or the Rite of Reception into full communion is the Easter Vigil. Lent prepares catechumens, candidates and the whole community for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

The celebration of the Easter Vigil dramatically points to the wellspring of the church's life: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.