Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults, RCIA is shorthand for the formation process which those who have never been baptized, or those baptized in another Christian denomination who which to become Catholic, as they prepare to receive the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist). The formation process includings a class, formal instruction in Catholic doctrine and scripture, and “breaking open the word”, that is, prayer and teaching based on the Sunday lectionary readings which of course come from the bible. There are several periods, each punctuated by certain rites, usually celebrated in Church, often during Mass so that the entire congregation is involved.
The inquiry period is just that, a chance for Q&A for those still deciding if they want to go through with it, to answer a lot of the basic questions about Mass, the Sacraments, Mary, saints etc. the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of the Catechumenate begins the Catechumenate, or longest period of study and prayer. The rite of election, and the beginning of Lent begins the period of Lent, final intense prayer and preparation for the sacraments and reception into the Church at the Easter Vigil. The final period is Mystagogia, prayerful reflection and study on “what just happened to me” and what it all means, followed by more in-depth study of the faith doctrine and scripture, and hopefully by life-long faith formation and growth. There are also several minor rites, some optional, celebrated during the process.
To all beginning RCIA at this time, Welcome Home!