Is entering the Church via the RCIA (specifically the classes) mandatory?

I realise that this question has been asked many times before, but in many forms though my question is specific (I’ll elaborate on my situation later on in this post) but in short:

Is entering through the RCIA process mandatory? Not what’s desirable, not what’s common practice but what’s mandatory according to Canon Law? Would it be invalid or sinful for non-Catholic with a recognised Trinitarian baptism (High Church Anglican) to just go to his first confession with a sincere and contrite heart and then receive communion - seeking confirmation later on? (Don’t worry, I’m not planning to do so - this is a hypothetical question).

Now for the detail:

It’s looking more and more like I’m not currently welcome in the Catholic Church - not in a “get out of our church” sense but in the sense that there is no facility for me to join and become in full communion with her so I’m stuck on the sidelines watching. :frowning:

My parish priest, who has only just taken over and is very orthodox (a good thing) has been put here as he’s suffered ill health and has been given a smaller and less complex parish.

I have asked him THREE times over the last three months about joining the church or an RCIA but still he says that he’s not able to think about this until he’s settled in more. Bear in mind that the RCIA should start in September or no later than mid-October normally and he did once say “keep an eye on the parish newsletter”. He’s offering first communion classes for children but nothing for adults, no mention of classes or instruction for adults. I don’t blame him; he’s got an awful lot on his plate.

I’ve made enquiries about “bypassing” the RCIA and the classes with the Dominican Priory about an hour’s drive from me and following a long conversation the Prior said “yes, it’s possible, you seem have plenty of knowledge” indicating they trust that my studies have been sincere but which I found a little embarrassing.

I’ve made enquiries with the Latin Mass Society and there isn’t a parish close enough.

I’ve made enquiries with FSSP to see if they use the same “formula” for joining but they are just too far away, I’d have to drive four hours there and back.

I’ve spoken to Priests and brothers religious in several places and they all suggest that there is a way around it but to speak with my Priest as personal instruction might be possible. I have also spoken with some friends who are seminarians and they have also said that technically I could approach the Bishop and if he feels that I am sincere and that my knowledge (and more importantly my intention) is sincere, he could; in theory; say “seek confession as soon as you can, I will accept you in the Church next week and you will receive communion”.

I’ve been trying to enter the Catholic Church for over six years now, but the time has never been right. In those six years there’ve always been events which take over - two close family deaths, two immediate family births, two major health scares within my immediate family, a second life changing illness, my wife had a serious mental breakdown, school changes, a child having to have hospital treatment and ongoing care, two substantial job changes.

Furthermore, my wife and I are exhausted, we have four children including a baby, no and I literally mean NOT ONE friend or family member who helps us out with child care. I work an hour away and my job is very stressful and I deal sometimes with dangerous people and only have an hour or so each night IF I’m lucky, so driving 30 minutes to the next parish over every single week for both mass and again for classes is not an option at all. I can occasionally attend Mass elsewhere, but a regular, weekly meeting is not financially or logistically viable. Except for an hour on a Sunday morning and work, I pretty much cannot leave the house as my wife struggles to cope with the children.

That leaves me with the choice of waiting another 2 years nearly or abandoning my desire to join the Church (not an option!). One thing that I (and many of my knowledgeable seminarian friends) find awkward for me is that one could be baptised Catholic as a baby and never once set foot in a Church again until adulthood, but then walk straight in, take part in the sacrament of reconciliation and then receive communion yet an Anglican with a valid baptism and potentially years of catechesis is obliged to seek instruction.

So, my extended question is:

What do I actually have to do to enter the Church as a full Catholic? More importantly what is theologically, liturgically and canonically required for my salvation?

I know that I cannot receive communion unless I’m in a state of grace, that means an honest, comprehensive, sincere and contrite confession - I accept that and look forward to it.

What is to stop me attending my first confession with an open heart and then receiving communion? Even if confirmation has to happen later on. Is that possible?

100 years ago “joining” the church required some weeks of study, honest introspection and examination of conscience and a contrite heart, confession before receipt of the Blessed Sacrament. I am doing the first bit already.

I sincerely, solemnly and truly believe that our Lord is present in body and blood in the Eucharist through receipt of communion and I will not do so lightly.

What are my options?

Please accept my apologies for the long winded post and the fact that I sound impatient or might be at risk of sounding arrogant. That is not what I intend but this is important to me. My inability to receive absolution and communion is like not being able to breathe fully, it’s like having a heavy boulder on my chest.

I realise that this question has been asked many times before, but in many forms though my question is specific (I’ll elaborate on my situation later on in this post) but in short:

Is entering through the RCIA process mandatory? Not what’s desirable, not what’s common practice but what’s mandatory according to Canon Law? Would it be invalid or sinful for non-Catholic with a recognised Trinitarian baptism (High Church Anglican) to just go to his first confession with a sincere and contrite heart and then receive communion - seeking confirmation later on? (Don’t worry, I’m not planning to do so - this is a hypothetical question).

Now for the detail:

It’s looking more and more like I’m not currently welcome in the Catholic Church - not in a “get out of our church” sense but in the sense that there is no facility for me to join and become in full communion with her so I’m stuck on the sidelines watching. :frowning:

My parish priest, who has only just taken over and is very orthodox (a good thing) has been put here as he’s suffered ill health and has been given a smaller and less complex parish.

I have asked him THREE times over the last three months about joining the church or an RCIA but still he says that he’s not able to think about this until he’s settled in more. Bear in mind that the RCIA should start in September or no later than mid-October normally and he did once say “keep an eye on the parish newsletter”. He’s offering first communion classes for children but nothing for adults, no mention of classes or instruction for adults. I don’t blame him; he’s got an awful lot on his plate.

I’ve made enquiries about “bypassing” the RCIA and the classes with the Dominican Priory about an hour’s drive from me and following a long conversation the Prior said “yes, it’s possible, you seem have plenty of knowledge” indicating they trust that my studies have been sincere but which I found a little embarrassing.

I’ve made enquiries with the Latin Mass Society and there isn’t a parish close enough.

I’ve made enquiries with FSSP to see if they use the same “formula” for joining but they are just too far away, I’d have to drive four hours there and back.

I’ve spoken to Priests and brothers religious in several places and they all suggest that there is a way around it but to speak with my Priest as personal instruction might be possible. I have also spoken with some friends who are seminarians and they have also said that technically I could approach the Bishop and if he feels that I am sincere and that my knowledge (and more importantly my intention) is sincere, he could; in theory; say “seek confession as soon as you can, I will accept you in the Church next week and you will receive communion”.

I’ve been trying to enter the Catholic Church for over six years now, but the time has never been right. In those six years there’ve always been events which take over - two close family deaths, two immediate family births, two major health scares within my immediate family, a second life changing illness, my wife had a serious mental breakdown, school changes, a child having to have hospital treatment and ongoing care, two substantial job changes.

Furthermore, my wife and I are exhausted, we have four children including a baby, no and I literally mean NOT ONE friend or family member who helps us out with child care. I work an hour away and my job is very stressful and I deal sometimes with dangerous people and only have an hour or so each night IF I’m lucky, so driving 30 minutes to the next parish over every single week for both mass and again for classes is not an option at all. I can occasionally attend Mass elsewhere, but a regular, weekly meeting is not financially or logistically viable. Except for an hour on a Sunday morning and work, I pretty much cannot leave the house as my wife struggles to cope with the children.

That leaves me with the choice of waiting another 2 years nearly or abandoning my desire to join the Church (not an option!). One thing that I (and many of my knowledgeable seminarian friends) find awkward for me is that one could be baptised Catholic as a baby and never once set foot in a Church again until adulthood, but then walk straight in, take part in the sacrament of reconciliation and then receive communion yet an Anglican with a valid baptism and potentially years of catechesis is obliged to seek instruction.

So, my extended question is:

What do I actually have to do to enter the Church as a full Catholic? More importantly what is theologically, liturgically and canonically required for my salvation?

I know that I cannot receive communion unless I’m in a state of grace, that means an honest, comprehensive, sincere and contrite confession - I accept that and look forward to it.

What is to stop me attending my first confession with an open heart and then receiving communion? Even if confirmation has to happen later on. Is that possible?

100 years ago “joining” the church required some weeks of study, honest introspection and examination of conscience and a contrite heart, confession before receipt of the Blessed Sacrament. I am doing the first bit already.

I sincerely, solemnly and truly believe that our Lord is present in body and blood in the Eucharist through receipt of communion and I will not do so lightly.

What are my options?

Please accept my apologies for the long winded post and the fact that I sound impatient or might be at risk of sounding arrogant. That is not what I intend but this is important to me. My inability to receive absolution and communion is like not being able to breathe fully, it’s like having a heavy boulder on my chest.

The following links should help answer your questions about joining the Catholic Church. If you have any further questions, please contact Catholic Answers directly.

Recommended Reading:

Is RCIA necessary to becoming a Catholic?
How to Become a Catholic

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.