Why does the Church make RCIA candidates wait so long before they are accepted into the Catholic church. (until Easter)
I just think it is because they want to make sure they have the basics of the Faith, agree with everything and are not rushed into joining. It’s a serious life altering experience and needs to be taken very seriously.
It should also be noted that it’s possible on a case-by-case basis to be initiated into the Church before Easter Vigil. But it’s at the discretion of the pastor. Plus he’d have to ask the bishop for permission to confirm the candidate/elect.
The young man who will be marrying our niece was only baptized Catholic no other Sacraments. He will make his first Reconciliation, his First Holy Communion and his Confirmation before the wedding. They only started the process a couple of months ago.
From what I’ve seen it depends on your background. It is different/shorter for an ex-Protestant than for an ex-pagan/wiccan for instance.
When received into the Catholic Church you will be Catholic for the rest of your life. You are going to make a profession of faith “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.” on the day you become Catholic and that requires you being taught the faith and start living it as much as is possible before being received into the Church. During Admissio, the bishop asks your sponsor 4 or 5 question like if you are prepared to be received into the Church and if you have started to walk the way the faith. It is never “me and God” in the Catholic Church but “God, me and the whole Catholic Church”.
Our children have a 2 year preparation time before they receive their First Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Confirmation. RCIA was 2 years for me as that is the way they do it in that parish. I found it very good in the end even though I “had a Catholic faith for 20 years” before I finally realised that there was no way out but converting.
Gives candidates time to become fully informed. Catholic school children have to spend at least a year to prepare for reception of sacraments too.
In order to profess something for life, you really need to KNOW what you are professing. No need to be in a hurry.
I’m waiting for Easter 2019 myself. Have I already read and studied the Catechism? Yes. Some Church fathers? Yes. Books on various topics regarding the faith? Yes. It’s a lesson in patience and humility. These are two virtues I am sorely in need of.
There is nothing in the Rite that says a baptized candidate must be or should be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. Indeed, the Rite actually says that the burden should be no greater than necessary.
Preparation for baptized candidates should be individualized to meet their needs. Sadly, few parishes do this.
@mrsdizzyd at the rate things are going for me, I have the feeling I will have to wait until Easter 2019 as well.
It may seem like a long time, but I believe it was well worth the wait. I had been studying on my own and thought I knew everything - ha! Every day I gain a deeper understanding of the particulars of the faith.
As someone who started RCIA having already studied a lot and with 100% intent to enter, I found the most helpful part of the wait being getting used to Catholic life and working through long-standing prejudices ingrained from years of being a Protestant. I was surprised by just how much I still had to work through.
At least at my parish, it takes basically the same time. For instance, the girl in my group who had no experience with Christianity spent the same amount of time as the guy who had been attending Mass for so long that his family thought he had already converted. (There were a lot more people in the group spread across different backgrounds. Those two were just on the extreme ends of experience.) The only real cause of delays are personal decisions, life getting in the way, and/or waiting on an annulment.
That said, I hear that the parish I attend is a bit more rigorous with its RCIA program. My sponsor, who came in a year before me, was sent to that parish after the first one he went to said it would be a better fit for him, given that he had been to seminary and had already studied Catholicism a lot.
Exactly. It is not a decision to be entered into lightly. I moaned and groaned about having to go through RCIA, and now I am a catechist. Trust the process.
Joining, although almost casual in some non-Catohlc circles, is a profound, life and eternity changing endeavor. It requires instruction, and good instruction, and building upon that foundation via mass attendance, scripture reading and study of the catechism. In the ancient past, it would sometimes take years.
For some perspective, her is one woman’s tale:
From what I’ve heard from those familiar with RCIA read GOOD CATHOLIC material besides the books from class that will broaden your understanding of the Faith.
It sure did change my life - I hadn’t attended my Baptist church for probably 4-5 years for various reasons which I could always make myself believe God understood. I watched Mass on TV for two years before I ever went. I met with my priest and his comment was, well…weekly Mass attendance is expected…I replied, yes. That was Easter 2016. Two plus years later, I missed once for my dad’s funeral and once for being sick. We met after the 9 am Mass until around 11:30, plus every other Wednesday evening. I was the only candidate. The time truly flew by and was so informative. I still can’t believe I went from no church for 5 years to once a week (and more) just by committing to “yes.” And I’m a catechist now!
In the early church it took years to become a member of a church community and to be finally baptized. Catechumenate in the catholic churches is preparation, and living with your new faith is important, as there are situations and challenges that will come up and - sometimes - question your way and - hopefully - let you walk on more stable and rooted in faith.
The learning on the faith itself is a big part, but nly one aspect. I entered catechumenate after enough semesters of history and theology to look “well prepared” from the outside - it didn´t took a year then, but 6 months to see, live, become familiar with members (yes, this is also a point - this is your new family in christ!) and let the first “rush” go and see how it works in daily life.
Candidates can be received whenever they are ready.
Catechumens (the unbaptized) are received at Easter typically, but can be baptized at other times too.
Strictly speaking, in the case of candidates (i.e. already baptized), it’s not the “Church” that is the main source of delay. The Rite of Christian Initiation several times mentions that those already baptized are not held to a specific schedule:
473 - … [t]he rite is so arraigned that no greater burden than necessary is required for the establishment of community and unity.
475 - In regard to the manner of celebrating the rite of reception:
§2 … Often it is preferable to celebrate the Mass with only a few relatives and friends. … The person to be received into full communion should be consulted about the form of reception.
477 - The baptized Christian is to receive both doctrinal and spiritual preparation , adapted to individual pastoral requirements, for reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church. …
478 - … In all cases, however, discernment should be made regarding the length of catechetical formation required for each individual candidate for reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
487 - If the rite of reception into full communion takes place on a solemnity or on a Sunday, the Mass of the day should be celebrated; on other days it is permissible to celebrate the Mass “For the Unity of Christians” from the Masses for Various needs.
The preceding shows that those already baptized outside of the Catholic Church are not exactly envisioned to being brought into the Church only at Easter. You’ll notice that most of the above actually argues against receiving candidates at the vigil (475§2 - the vigil is not exactly a mass with only family and a few friends; 487 speaks about if celebrated on a Sunday or Solemnity to use the Mass of the Day but specifically mentions using a specific Mass for various needs on other days - neither of which are allowed at Easter).
Despite that, in many places it’s a matter of pastoral … convenience (?) to have candidates and catechumen received at the same time each year. For some it might be that the Bishop only allows priests to confirm at the Easter Vigil, but in my own experience that tends to be fairly rare. I know myself and several others were received after only a handful of weeks or months via the simple expedience of simply asking the pastor.
Ultimately it would be up to them (working within any strictures of their bishop), but that does not mean it is the Church itself that sets Easter as the only time to be received.
I did a fair bit of “kicking and screaming and throwing temper tantrums”. I even told God he had to make it worth it to wait an extra year before I could be received into the Church. He surprised me in many ways during the second year and I know why I had to wait.