The Gift of New Life – Part I
Dear Friends in Christ:
One of the most important days in my life is September 17th. It is the day I was baptized and was reborn in Jesus Christ! What is the day of your baptism? For the next few weeks, the bulletin letter will be devoted to the topic of Baptism. For more information see The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #1213-1284.
Baptism is the beginning of our new life in Christ. In the waters of baptism we are “born again”; original sin is washed away and we become the adopted children of God and members of the Church. It is the greatest gift that parents can give to their children. God gives every human the gift of life through nature and then He gives, through His Church, the supernatural gift of eternal life! As Catholics, we do not restrict the gift of the sacrament of baptism to adults. We lavishly share it with all, for all are in need of salvation and God wills that all be saved. From the time of the apostles, the scriptures testify that “whole households” came to be baptized (Acts 16:15). These households, including adults, infants and children, gave witness that no one should be denied the gift of salvation.
Today the Church continues to call people to the gift of new life in the cleansing waters of baptism. For adults who have never been baptized (no religion, belonging to a non-Christian religion or just never baptized) The Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the normal way of preparation and reception of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist). The preparation takes place through a series of stages: the proclamation of the Word of God (Pre-Catechumenate), a period of acceptance of the Word and conversion of heart and life (Catechumenate), a period of purification and enlightenment (Celebration of the Sacraments) and a period of further instruction in the life of faith following baptism (Mystagogy). These periods of preparation are accompanied by various ritual actions or rites. Thus, the formation process is appropriately called the Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Liturgically, the Sacraments of Initiation are most fittingly celebrated at the Easter Vigil with the preparation periods preceding Easter and the final preparation taking place during Lent. In practice, the formation begins in the fall, but there is not a strict timeline.
For adults who are baptized outside the Catholic Church and wish to become Catholic, they too can be part of the RCIA. They participate in the formation with the unbaptized. Instead of being baptized again, they make a Profession of Faith and with the newly baptized, they complete the Sacraments of Initiation by receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation and receiving the Holy Eucharist. This completes their initiation and brings them into full communion with the Catholic Church. The reason they are not baptized again is that the Catholic Church recognizes the validity of baptism of those who are baptized with water and the Trinitarian Formula “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. The RCIA is not a program, nor is it “convert classes.” The RCIA is a formation process of becoming a committed disciple of Jesus Christ and deepening one’s relationship with God by becoming members of His Holy Catholic Church. It is being formed in the way of life as a Catholic. As with those who are baptized as infants, the conversion of life does not end with the celebration of the sacraments but is a life-long journey of faith. The formation of adult catechumens was the common process of the early Church and was restored following Vatican II.
If you know someone who is interested in becoming Catholic (baptized or unbaptized) or has questions about the Catholic Faith, we welcome them and invite them to contact Yvonne Gill in our Adult Formation Department.
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately