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How to Become a Catholic (Explanation of the Inquiry and RCIA process)
CatholicAnswers ^ | August 10, 2004 | CatholicAnswers

Posted on 04/21/2014 8:51:13 PM PDT by Salvation

How to Become a Catholic

Becoming Catholic is one of life’s most profound and joyous experiences. Some are blessed enough to receive this great gift while they are infants, and, over time, they recognize the enormous grace that has been bestowed on them. Others enter the Catholic fold when they are older children or adults. This tract examines the joyful process by which one becomes a Catholic. 

A person is brought into full communion with the Catholic Church through reception of the three sacraments of Christian initiation—baptism, confirmation, and the holy Eucharist—but the process by which one becomes a Catholic can take different forms. 

A person who is baptized in the Catholic Church becomes a Catholic at that moment. One’s initiation is deepened by confirmation and the Eucharist, but one becomes a Catholic at baptism. This is true for children who are baptized Catholic (and receive the other two sacraments later) and for adults who are baptized, confirmed, and receive the Eucharist at the same time. 

Those who have been validly baptized outside the Church become Catholics by making a profession of the Catholic faith and being formally received into the Church. This is normally followed immediately by confirmation and the Eucharist. 

Before a person is ready to be received into the Church, whether by baptism or by profession of faith, preparation is necessary. The amount and form of this preparation depends on the individual’s circumstance. The most basic division in the kind of preparation needed is between those who are unbaptized and those who have already become Christian through baptism in another church. 

For adults and children who have reached the age of reason (age seven), entrance into the Church is governed by the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), sometimes called the Order of Christian Initiation for Adults (OCIA). 

Preparation for the Unbaptized

Preparation for reception into the Church begins with the inquiry stage, in which the unbaptized person begins to learn about the Catholic faith and begins to decide whether to embrace it. 

The first formal step to Catholicism begins with the rite of reception into the order of catechumens, in which the unbaptized express their desire and intention to become Christians. "Catechumen" is a term the early Christians used to refer to those preparing to be baptized and become Christians. 

The period of the catechumenate varies depending on how much the catechumen has learned and how ready he feels to take the step of becoming a Christian. However, the catechumenate often lasts less than a year. 

The catechumenate’s purpose is to provide the catechumens with a thorough background in Christian teaching. "A thoroughly comprehensive catechesis on the truths of Catholic doctrine and moral life, aided by approved catechetical texts, is to be provided during the period of the catechumenate" (U.S. Conference of Bishops, National Statutes for the Catechumenate, Nov. 11, 1986). The catechumenate also is intended to give the catechumens the opportunity to reflect upon and become firm in their desire to become Catholic, and to show that they are ready to take this serious and joyful step (cf. Luke 14:27–33; 2 Pet. 2:20–22). 

The second formal step is taken with the rite of election, in which the catechumens’ names are written in a book of those who will receive the sacraments of initiation. At the rite of election, the catechumen again expresses the desire and intention to become a Christian, and the Church judges that the catechumen is ready to take this step. Normally, the rite of election occurs on the first Sunday of Lent, the forty-day period of preparation for Easter. 

After the rite of election, the candidates undergo a period of more intense reflection, purification, and enlightenment, in which they deepen their commitment to repentance and conversion. During this period the catechumens, now known as the elect, participate in several further rituals. 

The three chief rituals, known as scrutinies, are normally celebrated at Mass on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent. The scrutinies are rites for self-searching and repentance. They are meant to bring out the qualities of the catechumen’s soul, to heal those qualities which are weak or sinful, and to strengthen those that are positive and good. 

During this period, the catechumens are formally presented with the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, which they will recite on the night they are initiated. 

The initiation itself usually occurs on the Easter Vigil, the evening before Easter Day. That evening a special Mass is celebrated at which the catechumens are baptized, then given confirmation, and finally receive the holy Eucharist. At this point the catechumens become Catholics and are received into full communion with the Church. 

Ideally the bishop oversees the Easter Vigil service and confers confirmation upon the catechumens, but often—due to large distances or numbers of catechumens—a local parish priest will perform the rites. 

The final state of Christian initiation is known as mystagogy, in which the new Christians are strengthened in the faith by further instruction and become more deeply rooted in the local Catholic community. The period of mystagogy normally lasts throughout the Easter season (the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost Sunday). 

For the first year of their life as Christians, those who have been received are known as neophytes or "new Christians." 

Preparation for Christians

The means by which those who have already been validly baptized become part of the Church differs considerably from that of the unbaptized. 

Because they have already been baptized, they are already Christians; they are, therefore, not catechumens. Because of their status as Christians, the Church is concerned that they not be confused with those who are in the process of becoming Christians. 

"Those who have already been baptized in another church or ecclesial community should not be treated as catechumens or so designated. Their doctrinal and spiritual preparation for reception into full Catholic communion should be determined according to the individual case, that is, it should depend on the extent to which the baptized person has led a Christian life within a community of faith and been appropriately catechized to deepen his or her inner adherence to the Church" (NSC 30). 

For those who were baptized but who have never been instructed in the Christian faith or lived as Christians, it is appropriate for them to receive much of the same instruction in the faith as catechumens, but they are still not catechumens and are not to be referred to as such (NSC 3). As a result, they are not to participate in the rites intended for catechumens, such as the scrutinies. Even "[t]he rites of presentation of the creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the book of the Gospels are not proper except for those who have received no Christian instruction and formation" (NSC 31). 

For those who have been instructed in the Christian faith and have lived as Christians, the situation is different. The U.S. Conference of Bishops states, "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" (NSC 31). For this reason, they should not share in the same, full RCIA programs that catechumens do. 

The timing of their reception into the Church also is different. The U.S. Conference of Bishops states, "It is preferable that reception into full communion not take place at the Easter Vigil lest there be any confusion of such baptized Christians with the candidates for baptism, possible misunderstanding of or even reflection upon the sacrament of baptism celebrated in another church or ecclesial community . . . " (NSC 33). 

Rather than being received on Easter Vigil, "[t]he reception of candidates into the communion of the Catholic Church should ordinarily take place at the Sunday Eucharist of the parish community, in such a way that it is understood that they are indeed Christian believers who have already shared in the sacramental life of the Church and are now welcomed into the Catholic Eucharistic community . . ." (NSC 32). 

Christians coming into the Catholic Church must discuss with their pastor and/or bishop the amount of instruction needed and the time of their reception. 

Peace with God

The sacrament of baptism removes all sins committed prior to it, but since Christians have already been baptized, it is necessary for them to confess mortal sins committed since baptism before receiving confirmation and the Eucharist. 

In some cases, this can be difficult due to a large number of years between the Christian’s baptism and reception into the Catholic Church. In such cases, the candidate should confess the mortal sins he can remember by kind and, to the extent possible, indicate how often such sins were committed. As always with the sacrament of reconciliation, the absolution covers any mortal sins that could not be remembered, so long as the recipient intended to repent of all mortal sins. 

Christians coming into the Church should receive the sacrament of reconciliation before their reception into the Church (there is no established point for when they should do this) to ensure that they are in a state of grace when they are received and confirmed. Their formation in the faith should stress that frequent confession is part of Catholic life: "The celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation with candidates for reception into full communion is to be carried out at a time prior to and distinct from the celebration of the rite of reception. As part of the formation of such candidates, they should be encouraged in the frequent celebration of this sacrament" (NSC 36). 

The Christian fully enters the Church by profession of faith and formal reception. For the profession of faith, the candidate says, "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God." 

The bishop or priest then formally receives the Christian into the Church by saying, "[Name], the Lord receives you into the Catholic Church. His loving kindness has led you here, so that in the unity of the Holy Spirit you may have full communion with us in the faith that you have professed in the presence of his family." 

The bishop or priest then normally administers the sacrament of confirmation and celebrates the holy Eucharist, giving the new Catholic the Eucharist for the first time. 

Reception in Special Cases

In some situations, there may be doubts whether a person’s baptism was valid. All baptisms are assumed valid, regardless of denomination, unless after serious investigation there is reason to doubt that the candidate was baptized with water and the Trinitarian formula (". . . in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"), or that the minister or recipient of baptism did not intend it to be an actual baptism. 

If there are doubts about the validity of a person’s baptism (or whether the person was baptized at all), then the candidate will be given a conditional baptism (one with the form ". . . if you are not already baptized, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"). 

"If conditional baptism . . . seems necessary, this must be celebrated privately rather than at a public liturgical assembly of the community and with only those limited rites which the diocesan bishop determines. The reception into full communion should take place later at the Sunday Eucharist of the community" (NSC 37). 

Another special case concerns those who have been baptized as Catholics but who were not brought up in the faith or who have not received the sacraments of confirmation and the Eucharist. "Although baptized adult Catholics who have never received catechetical instruction or been admitted to the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist are not catechumens, some elements of the usual catechumenal formation are appropriate to their preparation for the sacraments, in accord with the norms of the ritual, Preparation of Uncatechized Adults for Confirmation and Eucharist" (NSC 25). 

Waiting for the Day!

It can be a time of anxious longing while one waits to experience the warm embrace of membership in the Church and to be immersed into Catholic society. This time of waiting and reflection is necessary, since becoming a Catholic is a momentous event. But waiting can be painful as one longs for the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and the joys of Catholic life—the security that being a faithful Catholic bestows. Yet even before being received, those waiting to be fully incorporated already have a real relationship with the Church. 

For those who are already Christians, their baptism itself forms a certain sacramental relationship with the Church (cf. Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio 3; Catechism of the Catholic Church 1271). They are also joined to the Church by their intention to enter it, as are the unbaptized who intend to do so: "Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, desire with an explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church are by that very intention joined to her. With love and solicitude mother Church already embraces them as her own" (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14:3; CCC 1249). 

Thus, even before one is fully incorporated into the Church, one can enjoy the status of being recognized by the Church as one of her own, precious children. 

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials 
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors. 
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004 

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted. 
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; converts; rcia
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Many converts just experienced this process.

Welcome Home, one and all.

1 posted on 04/21/2014 8:51:13 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Previous to Easter Vigil Ping!

2 posted on 04/21/2014 8:53:33 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
How to Become a Catholic (Explanation of the Inquiry and RCIA process)
Easter Rebirth [at the Easter Vigil]
Why Attend the Easter Vigil?
The RCIA Process -- The Rite of Acceptance
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Process of Christian Initiation

How Does a Person Become a Catholic? [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: The RCIA Inquiry Stage In the Catholic Church [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: A Strong Start in the Faith: The Catholic RCIA Stages [Ecumenical]
Lutheran Wife has questions before joining Catholic Church
Belleville Bishop Braxton in Brouhaha with his priests (title mine)
A Ramble through My "New Catholic" Wish List {RCIA referenced]
Help with RCIA (Vanity)
Catholic Liturgy - Funeral Masses for a Suicide And More on Confession for RCIA Candidates
Confession for RCIA Candidates And More on the Prayer of the Faithful
RCIA and Holy Saturday

3 posted on 04/21/2014 8:55:41 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

How to become a Christian:

Believe in God and his son that came to Earth to save your soul. He died for your sins. Not sure that it requires any religion but it does require

4 posted on 04/21/2014 9:23:33 PM PDT by Deagle (ues)
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To: Salvation

Show where Christ, asked every soul to follow Peter,the Liar. Show this truth, you proclaim as the Truth.

5 posted on 04/21/2014 9:29:05 PM PDT by RedHeeler
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To: RedHeeler

>>Show where Christ, asked every soul to follow Peter,the Liar. Show this truth, you proclaim as the Truth.<<

Strong assertion, backed by zero evidence.

I left the Church for differences in how we see the Universe. It appears you were hurt by one or more of Her representatives.

Liturgy is crystal clear “(Petros) upon this rock I shall build my church.”

IMHO, you should make peace with your anger and then approach this subject with a cool mind...

6 posted on 04/21/2014 9:36:17 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (Fight Tapinophobia in all its forms! Do not submit to arduus privilege.)
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To: freedumb2003

Thank you, wonderful being.

7 posted on 04/21/2014 9:38:41 PM PDT by RedHeeler
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To: Deagle; Salvation

Ageed Deagle,

One should be asking themselves: How does one become saved (by God) and have real salvation, not ‘How does one become a member of this or that church (which is useless)’. As an example (and not just in the Catholic Church, because this can happen in any “Church”) there was a transvestite that was on Jimmy Kimmel tonight and stated that He (she) had been to Mass on Easter, for all the real good it did their soul, they sure didn’t receive ‘Christ’ (One wonders if the priest gave this person their communion though..).

“For by Grace you have been saved through faith” and “18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” It is not ritual or religious rites that save a person, it is belief (faith) in what Christ has done, and none of our “work”.


8 posted on 04/21/2014 9:43:25 PM PDT by JSDude1 (Defeat Hagan, elect a Constutional Conservative: Dr. Greg Brannon!)
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To: Salvation

Abp John Francis Knoll, “Father Smith Instructs Jackson”. Great intro. But I ain’t Catholic. But anyone who may be curious....

9 posted on 04/21/2014 10:03:08 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: freedumb2003
Show where Christ, asked every soul to follow Peter,the Liar. Show this truth, you proclaim as the Truth. -RedHeeler

Strong assertion, backed by zero evidence. ...

...Liturgy is crystal clear “(Petros) upon this rock I shall build my church.” - 2003!

Your cult's liturgy may think more of Peter than many of us, maybe, but not stated as such in Holy Scripture, FD3. I won't bother to hash that our for the umpteenth time.

But, you ask for evidence, and I found it easily while looking at the Gospels. It can also be stated that Paul has a better calling because he rebuked Peter for trying to turn Gentiles into Jews! Peter didn't display any knowledge behind the power of Christ's sacrifice.

Mark 14: 66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept. ...


Galatians 2; 11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? 15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[d] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. 17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. 19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

10 posted on 04/21/2014 10:12:43 PM PDT by WVKayaker ("Polls? Nah... they're for strippers and cross country skiers." -Sarah Palin)
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To: Salvation

Welcome home to my fellow members of the 2013-14 Tiber Swim Team! I’m glad to be here. Thanks be to God!

11 posted on 04/21/2014 10:44:51 PM PDT by RichInOC (...your newest purveyor of wit, laughter and the Popish creed.)
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To: Salvation

I prayed the prayer when I was in high school. And meant it. I did what I did Saturday night to put an exclamation point on that commitment. And if anything, I meant it even more. I believed it with all my heart and all my soul. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. And I don’t think my Christian friends, Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox, would have wanted me to do it on any other terms.

12 posted on 04/21/2014 11:57:24 PM PDT by RichInOC (...your newest purveyor of wit, laughter and the Popish creed.)
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To: Salvation

Why not tell how to become a Christian instead of a Catholic? Being a Christian is a whole lot more important. Being Catholic does not save you just like being a Baptist, Methodist, etc doesn’t. It seems like y’all are more interested in numbers and not true believers in Jesus.

13 posted on 04/22/2014 12:30:39 AM PDT by MamaB
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To: Salvation


14 posted on 04/22/2014 12:56:52 AM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: MamaB

Catholics are Christians. We believe in the Holy Trinity and the Resurrected Christ. It is our duty to preach to all nations and we rejoice when our brothers and sisters come home to the Faith. It’s not about numbers. It’s about souls.

15 posted on 04/22/2014 1:21:53 AM PDT by JPX2011
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To: WVKayaker

Peter was restored:

John 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

John 21:16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

John 21:17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

John 21:19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

16 posted on 04/22/2014 1:43:28 AM PDT by JPX2011
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To: JPX2011
Peter was restored: -JPX2011

I read the Scriptures you posted, but do not see any "restoration". Instead, I see a petty, jealous man, who later found it necessary to try and make Gentiles follow the Jewish customs and could not have been your cult claims as the leader of the church. The head is Christ Jesus, and Peter was only one of 12. The following passage is the completion of your post... and does nothing to reinforce or restore Peter into any role of authority. YMMV, but that is only because of your "traditions of men"!

John 21: ...20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” p>22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” p>24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

17 posted on 04/22/2014 3:06:11 AM PDT by WVKayaker ("Let's keep the grassroots momentum going ..." -Sarah Palin 4/19/14)
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To: MamaB

Catholics are also Christians, we share a common baptism.

18 posted on 04/22/2014 3:34:22 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: JPX2011


19 posted on 04/22/2014 3:34:54 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: Salvation

Thank-you, God Bless, Salvation for this special article.

Congrats, Happy Easter Season to our new Catholic Christian believers!

20 posted on 04/22/2014 3:40:00 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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