RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS
The initiation of adults into the Catholic faith is a gradual process that takes place within the parish community. This journey includes periods for making inquiry and for maturing in the faith of the Church.
Overall, there are 4 Periods; between the periods are 3 Steps. These three steps are the major, more intense moments of initiation marked by liturgical rites: (1) the Rite of Acceptance into the order of Catechumens; (2) the Rite of Election or Enrollment of Names; and (3) the celebration of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist. These Periods and Steps are outlined below.
First Period: Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate - Inquiry
This is an informal time for asking questions about faith in Jesus Christ and is an introduction to Gospel values and the faith and teachings of the Catholic Church.
First Step: Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens
This is a liturgical rite, celebrated within a parish Sunday Mass, marking the beginning of the period of the catechumenate, during which the candidates express and the Church accepts their intention to respond to God's call to follow the way of Christ. Henceforth, the candidates officially become catechumens. From this time on the Church embraces the catechumens as its own with a mother’s love and concern. The catechumens are now part of the household of Christ.
Second Period:Period of the Catechumenate
This is the time for the growth of the catechumens' faith and conversion to God; a period of more formal and intense study of the faith and teachings of the Church.
Second Step:Election or Enrollment of Names
This is the liturgical rite, usually celebrated on the First Sunday of Lent, by which the Church formally ratifies the catechumens' readiness for the Sacraments of Initiation; and the catechumens, now the elect, express the will to receive these sacraments. This rite is generally celebrated by the bishop at the Cathedral.
Third Period:Period of Purification and Enlightenment
This is the time immediately preceding the elects' initiation (the Lenten Season); a time of reflection, intensely centered on conversion and marked by celebration of the Scrutinies on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent.
Third Step:Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation
This is a liturgical rite in which the elect are initiated through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. The celebration of this rite occurs during the Easter Vigil, the most solemn Mass of the liturgical year.
Fourth Period:Period of Postbaptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy
This is the time (Easter season) following the celebration of initiation, during which the newly initiated (neophytes) experience being fully a part of the Christian community by means of pertinent catechesis and particularly by participation with all the faithful in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration.