Becoming a Catholic Christian
I’m interested. What should my first step be?
Contact any of our priests. Our priest can discuss with you the specifics of the initiation process at All Saints. Know the prayers of a half-million Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Louis are with you as you complete your journey. Best wishes!
The formation of adults and process by which they are initiated into the Church is known as the "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults," or the "RCIA."
The RCIA is for:
- Unbaptized... persons who have attained the age of reason (7 years and older) follow a process to help them grow in awareness to God's call to conversion as well as ways to respond to that call. They are considered catechumens.
- Baptized in Another Christian Church... those catechized and uncatechized persons from a faith tradition other than Catholic who are seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church (Eucharist and Confirmation). They are considered candidates.
- Baptized but uncatechized Catholic Adults... persons who were baptized as infants in the Catholic Church but did not receive any religious upbringing within the Catholic Tradition. These adults will be prepared to celebrate the sacraments of Penance, Confirmation and Eucharist. They are also considered candidates.
In the case of children who have reached the age of reason (ages 7-16), the pastor of All Saints parish should be consulted for information about Baptism and the other Sacraments of Initiation.
Adult Catholics who were baptized and received their First Eucharist in the Catholic Church and are interested in the Sacrament of Confirmation should contact their our parish office.
What is the Rite of Christian Initiation?
The primary concern of the order of Christian initiation of adults is the ongoing conversion of the individual to God within a particular community. This conversion is the turning of the whole person (not just the intellect) to God revealed in Christ and proclaimed by the Church. This conversion for both the unbaptized and the baptized is not simply "becoming a Catholic." To embrace the Catholic faith is to convert one's life to the work of the Church, particularly its mission to preach the good news of Jesus and to build up the reign of God. Conversion is the work of God in which we, the Church, participate.
The order of Christian initiation of adults is divided into four major periods: a) Precatechumenate b) Catechumenate c) Purification and Enlightenment d) Mystagogy. Except for the precatechumenate period, each period begins with a special liturgical rite that both completes the previous period and gives direction to the following period.
(Guidelines for Implementation of the Order of Christian Inititation of Adults - Archdiocese of St. Louis, #2-3)
The Precatechumenate period is a time (of evangelization,) of active listening to the stories, questions and the experiences of the inquirers and of the Church. We offer authentic witness, genuine respect and freedom for the inquirer to probe and choose. The kingdom of God resides within. Inquirers are searching for God because God is calling. We (the Church) do not give God to the inquirers. We facilitate their search by sharing our experience of God in community, by praying with them, and by helping them name their experience of God through the stories of the Sacred Scripture and our tradition as Roman Catholics.
(Guidelines for Implementation of the Order of Christian Inititation of Adults - Archdiocese of St. Louis, #21)
This period of inquiry varies in length, depending on the individual needs of the Inquirer.
Entrance into the Catechumenate is celebrated by the Rite of Acceptance for the unbaptized and the Rite of Welcoming for those already validly baptized.
During this period the serious catechetical work of passing on the truths, stories, prayer and experiences of our tradition happens. Through their sponsors, catechumens and candidates continue to experience the many and various components of the life of the parish, i.e., liturgical, apostolic, educational and formative, social aspects.
(Guidelines for Implementation of the Order of Christian Inititation of Adults - Archdiocese of St. Louis, #29-30)
The Catechumenate is an extended period during which the candidates and catechumens are given suitable pastoral formation and guidance aimed at training them in the Christian life. Catechesis is planned to be gradual and complete in its coverage, accommodated to the liturgical year, and solidly supported by celebrations of the Word.
Purification and Enlightenment
Entrance into the period of Purification and Enlightenment is marked by the celebration of the Rite of Election for the unbaptized and the Call to Continuing Conversion for the already baptized. These rites are normally celebrated at the cathedral, with the Bishop on the first Sunday of Lent. After the Rite of Election, the baptized are then called the Elect.
During this time, the Elect and the candidates enter into a period of intense prayer and spiritual preparation. An integral aspect of this period is the celebration of the scrutinies, ordinarily during the eucharist on the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent. These rites are exorcisms (prayers of uncovering and healing all that is weak, defective and sinful and strengthening all that is upright, strong and good) for those to be initiated. Because the focus of these rites progresses from personal to social to cosmic sin, all three scrutinies are to be celebrated.
(Guidelines for Implementation of the Order of Christian Inititation of Adults - Archdiocese of St. Louis, #49)
Holy Saturday is to be a day of reflection and fasting. The Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, are normally celebrated at the Easter Vigil.
The fourth stage is the period of post baptismal catechesis or Mystagogy. The Sunday Eucharist is the central focus of this period. The word, Mystagogy" comes from the Greek meaning "to delved deeper into the Mystery" so the newly initiated explore their experience of being fully initiated through participation with all the faithful at Sunday Eucharist and through appropriate catechesis. In actuality, Mystagogy is a lifelong process, one in which all Christians are engaged, as we all work to deepen our sense of what it means to live the Christian life.
It is important to note that “Candidates” do not always need to take part in the full process. If they have been actively living the Christian life in another denomination, they are likely to need very little catechesis and may be welcomed into the Church on any Sunday after a short period of preparation. According to the National Statutes for the Catechumenate, "Those baptized persons who have lived as Christians and need only instruction in the Catholic tradition and a degree of probation within the Catholic community should not be asked to undergo a full program parallel to the catechumenate."
The RCIA process, "while presenting (authentic) Catholic teaching..., also enlightens faith, directs the heart toward God, fosters participation in the liturgy, inspires apostolic activity, and nurtures a life completely in accord with the Spirit of Christ." (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults #78)