I'm going to assist at my parish's RCIA, any tips?

I’m a theology major, and personally a graduate of RCIA, so I think I can help where I can. But I’d still like to hear any traditionalist input or advice you may have, CAF. Thanks.

Since you are a theology major I can give you one bit of advice that I had to learn…DON"T use too much “churchy” language that they will not understand. They will not have a clue what hermenutics, or exigesis, or eshcatatology, or ecclesial, or other such words you use in your course work, mean. Start simple…then you can begin to use bigger words once they get the idea or understanding of the concept. Actually using big churchy words are really unnecessary.

A second thing is, remember they are beginners. Some of them won’t know a thing about Jesus or the Church. While you are used to delving into theological books and articles, they may be struggling just to find their way around a missalette or the Bible. Also, just because you are a theology major (and I have 3 degrees in Theology), don’t for a moment think you can’t learn something from the candidates or other catechists who may not have had your education. I have learned some profound things from many of the people I have come in contact with in RCIA…more profound that I learned in all my course work.

Elementary fundamentals as the order of Mass and a review of the meanings behind the Apostles Creed, the Trinity, the Church as the home of the Holy Spirit.

Keep your expectations within reason. I find that there’s so much I’d like the candidates and catechumens to know, and it’s just not possible to give them the same background as someone who has been Catholic for 20, 30, or 40 years.

The other part I’ve had to learn is that there are two parts to the process, and they’re both important. I want my folks to have intellectual knowledge and to understand what the Church teaches on various topics. But I also want them to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If they can recite the Ten Commandments or list the corporal works of mercy, that’s good. But ultimately what’s going to keep them going is their relationship with God.

Stick to what the Church teaches, not what you think the candidate/catachumen wants to hear. I found that my RCIA team did this a lot with us catachumens last year and I ended up having to relearn everything. They did it to keep the candidates asking the questions happy.

We had everything from a guy telling us “that abortion was a natural part of life” to a deacon telling us that Holy Communion was not really the body and blood of Jesus to another guy telling us that the Church no longer opposes Freemasonry (which lead to one of the candidates becoming one). I’m not lying about any of this; in fact, the deacon is from Florida and travels to different parishes throughout the country full time. Message me and I’ll give you his name and website.

Back to the OP: please don’t be afraid to tell the truth. You’ll save everyone a lot of time and confusion.

Don’t be afraid to say “I am not sure on that. I will get back to you.” and remember to get back to them shortly.

I had a few cases where someone in authority said something atrocious. There is no good in having an argument at that point. Study it up, get some good citations and come back to the subject a week or so later. They only get to state the error once. You can hit it from several directions over the course of the year. Just be sure you are quoting good sources.

Do note that all important points need to be covered many times. Most people don’t remember anything they heard once; or they misremember it. I have had students say they never heard something which we had covered half a dozen times.

And keep it simple. Scientists are advised: if you are giving a talk with Einstein in the front row and a freshman in the last, explain it to the freshman; Einstein will understand.

Hi Ephel, I’m not well studied on the RCIA program or how much time is allowed for you to present what you feel is important.

If I were given the time to do so, I’d tell them about the Real Presence.
I’d stress that the Mass is a Sacrifice, not a symbolic ceremony, and that Transubstantiation truly occurs on the Altar. I’d let the folks know about the Tabernacle, and stress that once we enter the Nave of the church, we are placing themselves before the Real Presence. It’s a very Holy place. I’d be sure they know The Most Blessed Sacrament is to be adored before receiving it, and that one may only receive in a state of Grace, absolved of their Mortal Sins by way of the Sacrament of Confession. And that would be a good time to mention the Precept of the Church regarding our obligation to receive. The candidates may be surprised to hear the Church only requires us to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist at least once a year during Easter Season. I’d explain it’s ok to not receive at Mass if one knows he/she is in need of Confession. Then I’d explain what a Spiritual Communion is, and how essential it is to make one when not receiving at a Mass, and also how Adoration is a most reverent way to follow the Spiritual Communion while others are receiving. I’d end by also mentioning that while the Church does encourage frequent reception of Holy Communion, that also demands frequent Confession for a lot of us.

jmho of course, but these new Catholics need to understand how crucial belief in the Real Presence is in the practice of Roman Catholicism.

RCIA is a process, not a program, and as a process it begins with coming to know Jesus and entering into a relationship with Him. To hit inquirers with the doctrine of the Real Presence at a very early stage could be frightening. While we simply introduce the idea that we as Catholics believe that the Eucharist we receive is the Body and Blood of Jesus, for some it may take time for them to digest it (sorry for the pun). We begin with Scripture, introducing them to Jesus. Transubstantiation is too much to throw at them at an early stage. What you are suggesting comes later on in the process. RCIA is like any relationship. When you meet a person and don’t delve into the most intimate details of their life right away. You get to know the person and then gradually reveal yourselves to each other. Some relationships take longer to develop and the idea is to go at a pace where each person is comfortable and can understand. Once a person comes to really know Jesus, and develops a good relationship with Him, then we can talk about Communion with Him. There may be some for whom the concept comes much easier, but for others it may be more difficult to comprehend.

I have seen some very strange things done in RCIA. Would you believe a Nun pontificating on the beauty of Liturgical Dance, and then demonstrating it for the class. Some class members nicknamed it the “Benedictine Light Dance”.

And then there was the discussions about the need for “women in the priesthood”. Not to mention that the Eucharist was just a memorial. A priest that visited even made this statement, "the Bible should have started out, ‘once upon a time’ ".

I’m a real sceptic when it comes to RCIA. If it were me again I’d high-tail it to an FSSP parish for assistance but then you’d have to clear it through your own parish which could be a real hassle.

God Bless

I agree it’s best to stick to what the Church teaches. Also, there is usually someone who has more to say and asks more questions than anyone else in the class, just be aware of that, and don’t let them take over the class.

=EphelDuath;5725286]I’m a theology major, and personally a graduate of RCIA, so I think I can help where I can. But I’d still like to hear any traditionalist input or advice you may have, CAF. Thanks.

From personal experince I offter three tips in order of importance.

  1. The “only bible most people are going to read is how we, you and me” live our Catholic Faith publically. Be a “light on the hillside!”

  2. Stress the Single truth of each Catholic doctrine and dogma

  3. Teach the entire truth! There seems to be a tendancy to share only what is easily accepted. No, teach The Catholic Faith as God expects us to live it.

In the end, this is how god will judge us.

May God Bless you and the Holy Spirit guide you.


Well, you are assuming everyone entering RCIA knows nothing of Jesus. I find it hard to believe that would be the case,

But I appreciate your opinion and taking time to explain RCIA. :slight_smile:

That is my point. From what I’ve read here and there, it seems that dissidence, rather than Doctrine are presented to these Catechumens in some of the liberal parishes.

That is a grave danger to their souls imho.

I did say “for some.” That is why it is a process not a program and needs to be tailored to the group and not just the individual. Some of the unbaptized may take much longer to grasp concepts and hearing the faith stories of those who may be a bit further along is very helpful. Also, I have found that some who do “know Jesus” may have some preconcieved ideas that change as they go through the process. I have had many Jews and Muslims in our process over the years and it is difficult sometimes to get them to understand a real relationship with Jesus, who is not an “authoritarian” God but part of a Trinity whose foundation for existence is Love. It is much easier with those who are already baptized. Once in awhile we do get an unbaptized person who does know Jesus…like the young woman who went entirely through Catholic schools from Kdg through college but was never baptized. She was much easier to work with, but her thoughts about her relationship with Jesus was so helpful to the others in the group. It is a group effort. We form a community within the wider parish community. Our faith stories, faith sharing, not just lectures on doctrine, help us to grow and to integrate doctrine into our lives. I am writing an article about a Muslim woman we had several years ago who was a difficult case, she knew absolutly nothing, and she dispised her faith, but felt drawn to a relationship with God unlike anything she had ever experienced. The story is too long but in the end, just before baptism, she had to make a real life or death decision. Choose Christ and risk being killed for it, or to hold off on baptism. She chose Christ. Her decision strengthened the faith of all in our RCIA group, including the entire team, who were forced to wonder if we would be able to make the same decision in her case. She too was shy, was afraid of doing anything in public out of fear, and had tons of questions that took up a lot of group time. But in the end, she stood proudly at the font at the Vigil and cried through the entire Mass for joy. The entire process was life changing for all. If she were to do a simple one on one with a priest, which probably would not have taken over a year of weekly 2 hour sessions, I wonder if she would have made the final decision, without the support of our entire group. I wonder if she would have just said, this is just another religion with a bunch of rules. She was looking for a real relationship, with God and with a community. I find that true of many who come to RCIA. If you just want the doctrine and rule, you can read the catechism. RCIA inititiates people. As Turtillian wrote in the second century, “Christians are made not born.” And they are “made” within the loving arms of a communinty of faith who share their love of God with each other.


I left off one important element in my previous post.

Don’t be a wall flower. Active participation is needed. If you don’t clearly understand or agree with a teaching, very likely at least one other will feel the same way and perhaps
be too shy to speak. Seek itmediate clairification.

Don’t be put off ny the “Liberal” comments. Sure they do sometimes occour, but that is not the ordinary. Trust in the Holy Spirit to lead you to proper understanding, and so it shall be.

Love and prayers,

That is why we long termers refer to ourselves a cradle Catholics. No one is born Catholic.:wink:

I have never had a problem with a catechumen or a candidate asking too many questions.

It is necessary to limit sponsors. They should help the catechumen or candidate phrase their question, and ask the question for them if necessary. However, this is not the place to satisfy the sponsor’s curiosity. Some will take the discussion too deep or into their pet peeve, given the opportunity. If a sponsor thinks something needs more coverage, let them speak to the team privately.

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