Rite of Christian Initiation
The Call to Continuing Conversion
What is R.C.I.A.?
R.C.I.A., the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, is the process by which adults and children of catechetical age (7 and older) enter into the Catholic faith community. Not the 6 week “convert class” of years ago, RCIA is a dynamic journey of conversion for the entire parish. Drawing on the prayer, support and wisdom of the entire community, RCIA focuses not just information and an intellectual acceptance of Church teachings, but emphasizes the lived experience of the people of God. What do we believe and how do we live it in the complex 21st century? RCIA invites all participants to enter into the exciting and challenging adventure of proclaiming and creating the Kingdom.
Who is Invited?
RCIA is an ongoing journey of renewal for individuals who are seeking full communion with the Catholic faith community. If you are
- Baptized in another faith tradition but restless for more
- Baptized Catholic but away from the Church, lacking preparation for Eucharist or Confirmation
RCIA is an opportunity to come and see the goodness of the Lord. There is an adapted Catechumenate for children over the age of 7 who desire full initiation.
The Parish as Catechist
Although there are catechists who work with the Catechumenate in a focuses manner, each member of the parish is called by their own Baptism to invite and to nurture the candidates and catechumens. What do you as an individual or as a member of a parish group have to offer? What is YOUR responsibility to spreading the Good News?
How Can I Get Involved?
The Cabrini RCIA meets on Sundays at the 10:00 am Mass and meet after mass for instruction. If you or someone you know would like to take the next step in discerning the voice of God in their life, call Catherine Borsh at 313-381-5601. Because each person’s journey is unique to themselves, it is possible to step into the process at any time.
Steps in the Catechumenate
Pre-Catechumenate/Inquiry Period begins the process of initiation. Someone or something has piqued the person’s interest and desire for something more in their lives. These first few weeks of Inquiry or “Asking About” are spent working on naming the presence of God in their life all along, helping them to become more aware of what it is they are looking for. It is also a time to answer some basic questions that the Inquirers have regarding Mass, Sacraments, Prayer, history, etc. This period ends with the Rite of Acceptance, the first of the liturgical rites that highlight significant moments in the journey. This rite welcomes the participants into the Order of Catechumens. Celebrated usually on the first Sunday of Advent, the candidates publicly “declare their intention to the Church and the Church…accepts them as persons who intend to become members”. (RCIA 41)
The Catechumanate is the second stage of the initiation process. This is an extended, flexible period during which the candidates (those baptized in another faith tradition or Catholics who are not fully initiated) and the catechumens (unbaptized) receive more formal instruction in the Catholic Christian way of life. In addition to the weekly gatherings facilitated by a team of catechists, the RCIA participants will join the parish for Sunday Liturgy but will be dismissed after the homily to breaking open the Word and see what God is saying to them TODAY. Because intellectual understanding is insufficient to bring the message home, it is important that these children and adults have as many opportunities as possible to become a part of the life of the parish. This community participation develops relationships, connects service with discipleship, and challenges their understanding as to what our “usual human/ secular” activities might mean in light of the Gospel. The second major ritual of RCIA, the Rite of Election happens the first weekend of Lent when the candidates and catechumens from the whole Archdiocese travel to Blessed Sacrament Cathedral with sponsors and godparents to affirm the fact that God has chosen or elected them to receive the sacraments of initiation. The Cardinal presides over this liturgy during which each individual is called individually to come forward and inscribe their name in the Book of the Elect.
The final period of preparation is the Period of Purification, a time of focused reflection and discernment that coincides with Lent. To assist the elect in purifying their hearts and intentions, three Scrutinies are celebrated. These Scrutinies (as well as the other rites and rituals) are also invitations to the whole parish to take a closer look at the direction that they are going. The sacraments of initiation are celebrated at the Easter Vigil.
Because conversion is a lifelong process, the Period of Mystagogy continues through the Easter season. This is a time that the neophytes ~ the newly initiated ~ can reflect more deeply on the meaning of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. What are they called to do? How can they most faithfully live out their discipleship in our complex and ever changing world?
What does this Mean for Cabrini?
The entire parish community shares in the responsibility of mentoring, sponsoring, teaching and praying over time with those who are seeking. In order to do this, each member of the parish must revisit their own understanding of the active, challenging, committed discipleship that baptism calls us to. RCIA is a tremendous gift to each individual and each formal group at Cabrini. Through the example of the candidates and catechumens and our own response, we are reminded that conversion is lifelong and nobody is exempt or excluded from the journey.
For Your Consideration
- Where are YOU on your own journey of conversion?
- What does your personal journey have to do with the RCIA?
- How can you or your particular commission/organization become actively involved in the various aspects of RCIA? What can you offer to enhance the initiation and strengthening of our candidates and catechumens?
- What are some ways that RCIA can renew the faith, hope and spirit of this Parish?