I’m thinking about becoming a Catholic?
Thinking of joining the Roman Catholic Church? Great! Is it a little overwhelming? You may be wondering:
- Where to start?
- Why so many “stages” of initiation?
- What should I be doing in each stage?
- How will I know when I’m ready to move forward?
This article is your best starting point to answer these questions, and more. We’ll provide you with some fundamentals — centered in Christ — for beginning and developing your life of faith in the Roman Catholic Church. Everything else builds on these fundamentals! But…
Where do you begin? Well, you just begin from where you are now! Many adults entering the Catholic Church, or those just thinking about it, follow a process known as the RCIA — the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The RCIA process has several distinct stages. These Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of faith development itself, so this article will fit you whether or not you’re actually in the RCIA process.
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. Learn more about the Inquiry Process.
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.
Purification and Preparation
The Church will help you focus and intensify your faith as you prepare you 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-based meditations during Lent, which is the time frame of this period.
Initiation itself, 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 Eucharist. (If you’ve already been baptized, you won’t be baptized again.)
After 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.
The following is a discussion of each of these Catholic RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) stages.
But first, some basics…
Laying a strong foundation
Faith will be the foundation of your life, so make that foundation solid! Go slowly, make sure you’ve developed the basics well. That will help you avoid discouragement and frustration, two big enemies of faith development.
Also be aware of the importance of orthodoxy in the information you receive. (“Orthodoxy” here means “accurate and faithful” teaching.)
Make sure that you’re satisfied with your own faith development in each of the Catholic RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) stages before moving on to the next. Don’t let pressure from anyone else make you move on. Also watch out for calendar-based pressure — don’t say things like, “If I don’t start catechesis now, I won’t be done this Easter!” That’s the wrong basis for making a decision about your faith and your life! We know, sometimes it seems like it takes a long time to work through all of the Catholic RCIA stages. But… Don’t rush it!
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