For about eight months now I have been going to the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) class at our local parish church (St. Peter Catholic Church). If one is an adult and wants to enter the Church, then RCIA is the typical path these days. RCIA is also open to anyone just curious about the Catholic Church.
Our version of RCIA is a rather informal round-table discussion that usually involves reading from the lectionary’s daily scripture passages, and then using those as a springboard for discussion. Most of the time our discussions, however, range all over the map, and it’s not unusual for us to forget the readings altogether (for good or ill) and dive right in to various topics. Anything is open for inquiry. Quite often we end up with personal stories of faith. My guess is that at larger, wealthier churches RCIA is more lecture-based and the number of attendees is significant. In our RCIA there were only three of us, and then the other two entered the Church at Easter, leaving just me. I came in to RCIA late, and I’ve already been baptized. My wife has come with me a few times to RCIA as well. She is not at the same place as me on this journey, taking it slow and just checking it all out, watching me. She is curious and wants to support me, which I appreciate.
I have also discovered some recorded RCIA classes online, which I listen to frequently. I see the formats can vary. Some are more lecture-based, typically with a priest presenting key theological points, liturgical practice, and traditions of the Church, followed by Q&A. Some are more round-table, but still with some lecture or structured presentation to keep it moving forward. Obviously a recorded round-table is less enjoyable to listen to as a podcast, but I like being in our round-table at St. Peter’s.
It is typical for many who want to join the Catholic Church to begin RCIA in the fall and conclude at Easter, when they are baptized, confirmed, and receive their first communion. For me, I’ve already been baptized in a manner acceptable to the Catholic Church, which means I’ve had a Trinitarian baptism (“in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”) thanks to my Baptist upbringing. Thus, it becomes a slightly “easier” for me to enter the Church outside of the normal RCIA calendar. Also, since I’ve been a Christian my whole life, and have been studying Catholicism for the past seven years, I perhaps don’t need as much RCIA as those who are altogether new to Christianity or are young. However, that’s not really up to me to decide. And truly, we spend our entire lives learning about Christ and His Church. It’s interesting to put one’s trust in the guidance of others when it comes to faith-related issues. In fact, this is something I would have chaffed at a few years ago, but now welcome.
Also, since baptism is the sacrament through which one is forgiven all one’s sins, and since it’s been a lot of years since I was baptized and therefore I’ve committed a lot of sins since then, it was appropriate for me to instead go to my first reconciliation (confession) and be forgiven before I get confirmed. This I did recently and loved it. I wrote a bit about it the other day.
All in all I can hardly wait to finally enter the Church and take my first communion. Right now we’re just waiting for a response from our Archbishop granting permission for my confirmation outside of the normal calendar schedule.