The local parish begins RCIA next week and I’ve been thinking about attending. Would it be wrong to go for a while without any intention of being baptized? I’m interested in learning more about the faith and maybe meeting some Catholics (I don’t know any good, strong practicing Catholics.) Can someone describe what the RCIA classes are like? Would I be expected to pray in front of others or other things I may not be comfortable doing? I would describe myself as ex-mormon Agnostic at the moment.
By all means go for sure - it is a wonderful learning and educational experience. Just be up front with the Priest or leader of your RCIA group of your current state of thinking. A properly run RCIA program would welcome continued reflection even among those professing interest in baptism/conversion throughout the program to ensure the decision to cross the Tiber is an informed one.
You may attend with no obligations attached. RCIA is divided into periods: Inquiry,Pre-Catechumenate, Catechumenate and Mystagogy.
At least go to the Inquiry stage. Ask lots of questions and if you aren’t satisfied with the answers ask to see the priest. There are absolutely no obligations. One thing you should understand is that the Catholic Church is not interested in bringing anyone into the Church who does not understand exactly what they are doing. I have witnessed more than a few who have gone through RCIA and thought that they were ready to jump in, but the Church felt that they were not yet ready and required further study on their part.
God bless you on this journey. I think you are really going to enjoy it.
I agree with SteveVH. The inquiry stage of the RCIA process is open-ended - you have as much time as you need before making any commitment. Take this time and get to know the RCIA team members. Some of them probably entered the Church through the RCIA process themselves.
I started RCIA in 2007 with no intention of converting. I just wanted to understand the doctrine of the Trinity. Then I wanted to understand how Catholics thought and taught about everything. I was seated near the door, ready to bolt at a moments notice.
I came from a Mormon background but had been atheist for a much longer period of my life. Others praying at RCIA was outside my comfort zone! Every parish and thus every RCIA has its differences. No one asked me to pray in front of everyone.
Apparently, as you can see, God had his own ideas for me.
There was one man in our RCIA class, also a former Mormon, who has been going to RCIA for three years. No one is going to pressure you to be baptized. I still recommend that you participate, which means, the RCIA class time is only one aspect of RCIA. Prayer, reading the Bible and other materials recommended in your RCIA. You’ll get the most understanding in this way.
God bless you on your journey.
My parish always welcomed visitors to the RCIA classes. You’d probably need to call your local parish and speak with the director of religious education (or the RCIA director) just to make sure about whether you have to sign up for the classes or if you can just drop in to listen. Even if you had to sign up for the classes, it doesn’t mean you’re committing to becoming Catholic at the Easter Vigil. RCIA is for those seeking knowledge and wanting to learn more about the Church. You never have to do anything you don’t want to do. My RCIA classes always began and ended with an “Our Father” but it was led by the priest or someone else in charge of the class that day and no one was singled out to pray by themselves.
Best of luck to you!
You can pull out at any time you choose.
I have been running our parish RCIA program for more years than I can count. I always tell everyone, “You have up until 5 minutes before the Easter Vigil starts to pull out of the program. Past that, I’m dragging you down the aisle myself!!”
Go, ask questions. No question is off the table.
Thanks for the encouragement. I think I’ll at least go to the first one and see how it goes from there.
The secretary says we can drop by on the first day and sign up during the class.
In the meantime, you can do some pre-study by obtaining a copy of Catholicism for Dummies. It is an excellent introductory book that has info that life-long Catholics probably do not know. Many RCIA programs use it. I highly recommend it.
:nunchuk: Tough guy!
Fence Sitter -
Congratulations on your decision to attend RCIA. My wife (pie in Porknpie) is a convert having gone through RCIA and she loved it. RCIA is set up as a “journey” …those are my words…so that you can learn, question, discover and discern a little bit at a time. Then over time you learn a lot. Below is an RCIA outline from a EWTN thread. I can not tell you that your Parish will have them same week to week outline but it will give you a sense of what to expect week to week from a topic standpoint.
RCIA is basically, a class in the standpoint that someone will go over the subject matter and answer any and all of your questions. There may be a prayer at the beginning and perhaps a closing prayer. No one will put you on the “spot” with the possible exception of introducing yourself. One thing that I would say, assuming that you have several people in your church going through the process, is that there are no stupid questions and questions that you may be thinking about - others are wondering the same. So definitely speak up and ask away. You can stay in RCIA all the way up to the Easter Vigil Mass although my sense is that you’ll know well before then on whether you want to join the Catholic church or not.
- go over the “Prayer” forum and ask the folks over there to pray for you in your journey. They are quite good at it. I know the Catholics reading this post are praying for you too.
- you may want to pick up a general book on the church teachings. “Catholicism for Dummies” is written by two Priests. It’s good, covering the basics of the faith and is an easy read. You can also read the Catechism although it’s certainly a longer read (available for free on-line). You could read the catechism in sections as they line up with your weekly topics.
Pork n pie
Fence Sitter - “ditto”. Get the book.
Start compiling that bibliography.
I’ll add, the New American Bible.
Hey fence sitter,
I, too, entered RCIA as an agnostic ex-Mormon. I was really apprehensive about doing so as I was expecting the process to be similar to LDS conversion. On the first night, when we were given a calendar of topics, I was surprised to see that the course was going to last a year given that as an LDS missionary I would ask potential converts to be baptized after the second visit. It took me a good four months to even go to Mass with the other inquirers; in the mean time I would go to Mass at a different parish and sit toward the back by myself. The last thing I wanted was to start being “love bombed” by the Catholics.
Once I started to let my guard down and really get to know the other participants, I was shocked to learn that there were some who were on their second or third round of RCIA, still having not made the leap of faith. Heck, we even had two explicit atheists who were there for no other reason than to learn more about Catholicism.
I don’t know where you live, but you may very well be the only ex-LDS in RCIA, in which case you may be treated as a sort of exotic species My RCIA director was very accommodating, and even set up private meetings with the Parish Priest so that I could ask him some of the more theologically deep questions which didn’t really fit in well with any of the organized weekly topics.
If I were you, I’d go at least the first night, and say pretty much exactly what you said to us to the director. Good luck!
Ever been ripped off by someone selling something? Did the transaction take a year, or was it a quick sale?
One measure of the true faith: It is difficult to join and easy to leave. Reverse that, and you have trouble.
You should go, it will be a good learning experience. No-one is pressured to become a Catholic by attending RCIA or do anything they would be uncomfortable with.
I went through RCIA Without any intention to convert and was definitely welcome. I didn’t make the decision to actually join until right before lent started, so I went almost the entire program on an academic interest. Like Rebecca, I also realized that God had plans different from mine :-). I joined in 2011 and haven’t looked back!
This may be a topic for a different thread, but curious if you had looked into the Orthodox church and, if so, why did you choose Catholicism?
Finding one outside of major metropolitan areas can be a problem.