St. Joseph - St. Pius X
Catholic Parish of Leicester, MA
Christian Initiation of Adults
Each year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil, thousands are baptized into the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Listed below are some questions and answers about the process of Christian Initiation.
What are the steps of Christian Initiation?
Prior to beginning the process of becoming a Christian, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. This period is known as the Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate. For some, this process involves a long period of searching; for others, a shorter time. Often, contact with people of faith and a personal faith experience lead people to inquire about the Catholic Church. After a conversation with a priest or a parish director of Christian Initiation, the person, known as an “inquirer,” may seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, through the Rite of Acceptance. During this Rite, the inquirer stands amidst the parish community and states that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Catholic Church. The parish assembly affirms this desire and the inquirer becomes a Catechumen.
The Rite of Election includes the enrollment of names of all the Catechumens seeking baptism at the coming Easter Vigil. Typically, on the first Sunday of Lent, the Catechumens, their sponsors and families gather at the cathedral church. The Catechumens publicly express their desire for baptism to the diocesan bishop. Their names are recorded in a book and they are called the Elect.
As a newly initiated Catholic, they continue their formation and education continue in the Period of the Post-Baptismal Catechesis, which is also called Mystagogy. This period continues at least until Pentecost. During the period the newly baptized members reflect on their experiences at the Easter Vigil and continue to learn more about the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the teachings of the Catholic Church. In addition they reflect on how they will serve Christ and help in the Church’s mission and outreach activities.
What is meant by coming into full communion with the Church?
What is the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday like?
What does the white robe symbolize?
The newly baptized are dressed in a white garment after baptism to symbolize that they are washed clean of sin and that they are called to continue to walk in this newness of life.
What does the candle symbolize?
What does the Sacred Chrism symbolize?
The Sacred Chrism, or oil, is a sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit being given to the newly baptized. It is also a sign of the close link between the mission of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who comes to the recipient with the Father in Baptism.
Why was this ancient rite restored?
It was restored in the Church to highlight the fact that the newly baptized are received into a community of faith, which is challenged to realize that they too have become different because of this new life in the community.
Is there a ceremony or preparation for Catholics who never or seldom have practiced the faith?
For Catholics who have been Baptized, Confirmed and made First Communion but then drifted from the faith, the way they return is through the Sacrament of Penance. Catholics who were baptized but never received Confirmation and/or Eucharist also participate in a period of formation. This process of formation is completed with the reception of the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion often at the Easter Vigil or during the Easter Season.
What is the role of a godparent for an adult being baptized?
Prior to the Rite of Election, theCatechumen may choose one or two godparents, who will accompany the Catechumen on the day of Election, at the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation, and during the Period of Mystagogy. They are called to show the Catechumens good example of the Christian life, sustain them in moments of hesitancy and anxiety, bear witness, and guide their progress in the baptismal life.