Exploring the Catholic Faith, An All-Seasons Venture
May 15, 2016
Persons are attracted to explore the Catholic Faith for a variety of reasons. Many appreciate the communal nature of the Catholic Faith. This comes to expression in ways such as the following. The same Scripture Readings and prayers are used at weekend and Holy Day Masses all over the world. The Holy Father, the Pope, expresses and embodies the oneness of the Church on a universal level. All Catholic Churches celebrate seven Sacraments. In regard to its teaching on faith and morals, the Church is one on a global basis. On Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, Catholics all over are asked to observe the disciplines of fasting and abstinence.
Many are attracted to the Catholic Church because of its rich liturgical and musical heritage. The unbroken historical continuity of the Catholic Church from the time of Christ and the Apostles up to the present lends convincing credibility to the Catholic Faith.
While the Church is communal, it also appeals to individuals because of its personal concern for those who want to become Catholic. The Church takes seriously the spiritual development of those who are seriously considering the possibility of becoming Catholic. Whether or not a person who wants to join the Catholic Church has been baptized is a serious matter. The Catholic Church recognizes as valid the Baptisms of persons who have been baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in non-Catholic Christian faith communities. The process of preparing unbaptized persons who want to join the Catholic Church differs in significant respects than does that of preparing already baptized persons who desire to be received into the Catholic Church. A prospective Catholic is asked to invite a practicing Catholic to serve as her/his Godparent in preparing for Baptism and/or as a Sponsor for Confirmation when one is received into the Church. Candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation are invited to select the name of a Saint as their Confirmation name.
The normal process by which non-Catholic persons are prepared to be received into the Catholic Church is referred to as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, abbreviated RCIA. The matter of plugging into the process of exploring the Catholic Faith is on-going. While the series of formal sessions leading to reception into the Catholic Church begins in September, persons who want to explore the Catholic Faith are encouraged to express this interest now. Please contact the office of St. Mary or Resurrection Parish for more information about the RCIA process.
Initially, the RCIA process was designed for persons who want to prepare for Baptism. We have developed the RCIA process to accommodate both persons who want to prepare for Baptism as well as for individuals who have already been baptized in non-Catholic Christian faith communities. The specific kind and amount of faith formation that is needed for already baptized persons will depend upon the nature of the faith formation that these persons have already received. The process of preparing non-Catholic baptized persons to enter the Catholic Church can be significantly shortened if the Christian formation that they have received up to this point is substantial.
The process by which a non-Catholic person desires and prepares to be received into the Catholic Church is indeed a mystery. It is in the Lord’s hands. Therefore, it is essential that no one who is already Catholic ever pressure another person to join the Catholic Church. This desire needs to come from the one who explores the Catholic Faith. At the same time, hopefully those of us who already belong to the Church will want to do all that we can to encourage and to support those who want to become our brothers and sisters in Christ as members of the Catholic Church.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor