RCIA Rite of Election and Sending


The rite of election and sending are fast approaching. How certain should a person be in order to go forward with these Rites? I know many converts experience doubt in the process but how much doubt is too much doubt?

I’m asking for both myself and for my wife as she isn’t 100 % sold on Catholicism. Thoughts and advice are much appreciated and welcomed.


What part is she unsure about ?


It really depends on the issues one is having. If it is of a serious nature, then one should take some more time to study and reflect on the problem, before going forward in the process. Your priest should be available, by appointment, to discuss any questions, issues or concerns that your wife is having; he would be in the best position to advise her. Everyone walks their faith journey at a different pace, you may be ready this year, but your wife might still need more time to adjust and accept the teachings of the Church. I have seen many people take 2 or more years before they were ready (my husband needed 20!); she might even need a break. Just be there for her and pray, pray, pray; you are on the Holy Spirit’s timetable.


Heya, fellow RCIA person! :slight_smile:

First, I just want to say that the guy right above me makes some great points about figuring out where you are at, and if you have real doubts, priests seem like generally affable people you could talk to about it. At least the one who runs our class would certainly be.

But I want to throw a different possibility at you, that maybe it’s not a thing of doubt, but it may possibly be a thing of not having enough information yet to make a good decision you’ll be comfortable with.

I know, I was there, and especially as RCIA has been ramping up and we get a feeling of the enormity of the tradition and sacraments that we’d be signing on for - it can be overwhelming to say the least. So in addition to dude above’s recommendation of pray pray pray, I also want to throw out a complimentary suggestion of read read read. Or at least watch some YouTube videos. :wink: I’ve done both and it’s been great to have as much information as possible to inform my decisions and I guess you could say “sell me” on Catholicism.

As a starting point, there’s this great book called “Choosing to be Catholic” which helped me out a lot. Also, there are some ultra-informative lecture-style RCIA classes on YouTube from this guy named Fr. Mat. They’ve also been a big help, since our RCIA class has mostly been just watching the Catholicism DVD series, which is great, but I like having Fr. Mat’s classes to look in on. They can be found at youtube.com/user/frmatthartley

Whichever decision you two make, all the best for the future. :slight_smile:


Talk to your Catechists about your doubts, and ask your questions out loud. I can’t emphasize that enough.

I am an RCIA coordinator, and nothing gives me more joy than to help people find the answers to their questions. Believe me, I am not offended by anything, and neither will your Catechists be offended by your questions.

“Do I really have to believe … ?” “Catholics actually do that?!

Better to get things sorted out now, either to find out that you have nothing to worry about, or to find out that being Catholic would require something of you that you just can’t give at this time in your life.

ASK. ASK. ASK. :slight_smile:


I converted last year. My church skipped both of these all together so I didn’t have to make a final decision until much closer to Easter. I assume that means you could skip them as well if you’re really feeling uncertain still.

Lent definitely helped me make my decision.


Those seeking Baptism can’t omit these Rites, and it’s good for those who are seeking Full Communion to attend those that pertain to them; that’s why we have them. :slight_smile:


Well three of us got baptized, and none of us did either of those rites.

I do believe our names were submitted to the Diocese at the time of the Rite of Election, but actually attending was optional.

It’s sort of ridiculous to say those seeking Baptism CAN"T omit them. You can get baptized in a puddle in a parking lot if you have to. It’s not like the rite is actually part of or required for baptizing someone.


As far as I know it isn’t optional in the sense of blowing it off for a TV show. If someone is genuinely not able to attend they will give special permission, of course.


Well our diocese must have a different view of it because they definitely said “completely optional.” In fact, the RCIA leader at our parish basically advised against going because the distance/timing etc. would have made it a full-day affair.

I guess my question is, why wouldn’t it be completely optional? Because as I said, it’s not like its a prerequisite for baptism, and until a few decades ago it didn’t even exist, right? I got the sense it is just something extra they created at the same time they switched to the RCIA model in order to make the discernment process feel more concrete.


No, that’s not accurate. I’ll have a chance tomorrow to come back and explain the history, but there is nothing in the RCIA that’s just for fluff - all of it is essential to the whole.


My understanding of the process was that I didn’t have to attend the ceremony at the Basilica with the Bishop (though it was encouraged), but we celebrated at least part of the Rite in my home parish, and it was absolutely necessary I attend that.

It is ordinarily a full day affair for us as well. We have the celebration of the Rite in our home parish during one of the morning Masses and then the celebration at the Basilica mid-afternoon.


Okay, I’m back. :slight_smile:

The RCIA is the ordinary means of Conversion in the post-Christian era, and is modeled after the process that was used during the pre-Christian era, when the Apostles and the first generations of Christians were first coming into the Church as un-catechized adults.

During the Christian era, this process was unnecessary, because the vast majority of adults were catechized during childhood. Those few adults who came to the Church for Catechesis as adults could be brought into the Church one at a time, because they were few and far between. Since the culture itself was Christian, it was possible for a person to receive a few lessons from the priest, be baptized and receive First Holy Communion when deemed ready by the instructing priest, and then receive Confirmation at the next visit of the Bishop to that parish. It was assumed that the adult thus catechized would integrate into the parish community and take up his place in the social order of the parish, since the whole of society expected him to do so. He didn’t need to be prodded to attend Sunday Mass; there was almost nothing else for him to do on a Sunday morning except for that; there were very few distractions.

Recall that prior to the Edict of Milan, Catechumens underwent a four-year process of discernment, Catechesis, conversion, and Mystagogia.

Those four Periods have been revived in the RCIA process. The Period of Inquiry (also known as the Period of Evangelization) is a time of introduction to the distinctive teachings of the Church. It is a time for Inquirers to be exposed to the essential teachings of the Church (including the Catholic definition of faith, the Nicene Creed and the Four Dogmas of Mary, among other things) discover the person of Christ, enter into a life of prayer, and begin to attend Mass regularly on Sundays. This period concludes with the Rite of Acceptance, and for those who were baptized in other Christian communities, the Church has given a Rite of Welcome that supplies for them what was lacking in their original Baptism (such as the mark of the Cross on their forehead by the priest and sponsor). The Rite of Acceptance is required for those preparing for Baptism, because it is the first movement of the Rite of Baptism as we see it in infant Baptism in the Catholic Church.

They then enter into the Period of Catechesis, where they learn the meaning of the Sacraments and come to a more academic understanding of the things they were exposed to during the Period of Inquiry. They also come to Mass every Sunday and take time at some point during the Lord’s Day to “break open the Word,” typically after Dismissal, which takes place after the Homily at Mass. Again, this goes back to an earlier form of the Mass in which the Liturgy of the Eucharist was open only to those in full communion with the Church. (Today, anyone can come to Mass and observe, but prior to the Edict of Milan, the Catechumens were dismissed after the homily even if they weren’t going to a session of Breaking Open the Word, because they were forbidden to be present at the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

This can be a stumbling-block and very confusing in an era of “we must be welcoming at all costs, no matter what” - but back in the day, the Church had no qualms about kicking people out who didn’t belong - yet.

The Dismissal Rite is a sober reminder to all of us that being Catholic is a privilege; not a right.

The Rite of Election concludes the Period of Catechesis and prepares the Catechumens to receive direct preparation for the Sacraments, and “initiates” them into (for lack of a better term) the Period of Purification, which is direct preparation for the Sacraments.

The Rite of Calling to Full Communion is given to those baptized previously in other churches, and to uncatechized Catholics who have been baptized but not confirmed. The reception of this Rite is what permits the parish priest to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to those people; otherwise he is forbidden to do so.

You can’t initiate yourself into this; the Bishop calls you by name, individually, at the Rite of Election or at the Rite of Calling to Full Communion, in order to enable you to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter.

You can get baptized in a puddle in a parking lot if you have to. It’s not like the rite is actually part of or required for baptizing someone.

Not in the Catholic Church, you can’t. And if you were baptized in a puddle in the parking lot, then you have to go through the Rite of Welcome and the Rite of Calling to Full Communion in order to make up for what was lacking in your parking lot puddle baptism. :slight_smile:


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