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How to become Catholic

Discussion in 'Catholic DIR' started by Scott1, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Becoming Catholic is one of life’s most profound and joyous experiences. Some are blessed enough to receive this great gift while they are infants, and, over time, they recognize the enormous grace that has been bestowed on them. Others enter the Catholic fold when they are older children or adults. This tract examines the joyful process by which one becomes a Catholic.

    A person is brought into full communion with the Catholic Church through reception of the three sacraments of Christian initiation—baptism, confirmation, and the holy Eucharist—but the process by which one becomes a Catholic can take different forms.

    A person who is baptized in the Catholic Church becomes a Catholic at that moment. One’s initiation is deepened by confirmation and the Eucharist, but one becomes a Catholic at baptism. This is true for children who are baptized Catholic (and receive the other two sacraments later) and for adults who are baptized, confirmed, and receive the Eucharist at the same time.

    Those who have been validly baptized outside the Church become Catholics by making a profession of the Catholic faith and being formally received into the Church. This is normally followed immediately by confirmation and the Eucharist.

    Before a person is ready to be received into the Church, whether by baptism or by profession of faith, preparation is necessary. The amount and form of this preparation depends on the individual’s circumstance. The most basic division in the kind of preparation needed is between those who are unbaptized and those who have already become Christian through baptism in another church.

    For adults and children who have reached the age of reason (age seven), entrance into the Church is governed by the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), sometimes called the Order of Christian Initiation for Adults (OCIA).
     
  2. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    My conversion to the Catholic faith began with buying a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Edition)....... this is the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. I have read several other versions (all of which are excellent) but It was important to me to get my teaching from the "source". A great online copy with a search engine can be found here: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

    I then called a local parish and expressed my intention to become a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

    I did not go through a formal RCIA class, but was instructed by my parish priest personally as our parish did not have a class this past year. :(

    For those of you who read this, but are not ready to formally start a class or begin the process to become Catholic, I suggest that you spend a good amount of time trying to learn and understand the faith.

    Catholic Answers has a section with several references to difficult questions for new Catholics: http://www.catholic.com/library/How_to_Become_a_Catholic.asp

    God bless you!
    Scott
     
  3. johnnys4life

    johnnys4life Pro-life Mommy

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    I am not saying that I want to become Catholic necessarily, but I am curious. It is definately helpful to be able to find resources to look into it. Thank you for posting this. Looks like I've got a lot of reading to do.
    Good will to all.
    Johnny's girl
     
  4. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    johnny's girl,

    A good start would be Catholic Christianity by Peter Kreeft...... a wonderful description of the faith and the Catechsim of the Catholic Church without a whole lot of references to documents that you would not be familiar with being a non-Catholic.

    Becoming a Catholic or not...... to educate yourself in my faith will give you a great foundation to relate with the one Billion Catholics in the world!

    A friend in Christ,
    Scott
     
  5. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Preparation for the Unbaptized



    Preparation for reception into the Church begins with the inquiry stage, in which the unbaptized person begins to learn about the Catholic faith and begins to decide whether to embrace it.

    The first formal step to Catholicism begins with the rite of reception into the order of catechumens, in which the unbaptized express their desire and intention to become Christians. "Catechumen" is a term the early Christians used to refer to those preparing to be baptized and become Christians.

    The period of the catechumenate varies depending on how much the catechumen has learned and how ready he feels to take the step of becoming a Christian. However, the catechumenate often lasts less than a year.

    The catechumenate’s purpose is to provide the catechumens with a thorough background in Christian teaching. "A thoroughly comprehensive catechesis on the truths of Catholic doctrine and moral life, aided by approved catechetical texts, is to be provided during the period of the catechumenate" (U.S. Conference of Bishops, National Statutes for the Catechumenate, Nov. 11, 1986). The catechumenate also is intended to give the catechumens the opportunity to reflect upon and become firm in their desire to become Catholic, and to show that they are ready to take this serious and joyful step (cf. Luke 14:27–33; 2 Pet. 2:20–22).

    The second formal step is taken with the rite of election, in which the catechumens’ names are written in a book of those who will receive the sacraments of initiation. At the rite of election, the catechumen again expresses the desire and intention to become a Christian, and the Church judges that the catechumen is ready to take this step. Normally, the rite of election occurs on the first Sunday of Lent, the forty-day period of preparation for Easter.

    After the rite of election, the candidates undergo a period of more intense reflection, purification, and enlightenment, in which they deepen their commitment to repentance and conversion. During this period the catechumens, now known as the elect, participate in several further rituals.

    The three chief rituals, known as scrutinies, are normally celebrated at Mass on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent. The scrutinies are rites for self-searching and repentance. They are meant to bring out the qualities of the catechumen’s soul, to heal those qualities which are weak or sinful, and to strengthen those that are positive and good.

    During this period, the catechumens are formally presented with the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, which they will recite on the night they are initiated.

    The initiation itself usually occurs on the Easter Vigil, the evening before Easter Day. That evening a special Mass is celebrated at which the catechumens are baptized, then given confirmation, and finally receive the holy Eucharist. At this point the catechumens become Catholics and are received into full communion with the Church.

    Ordinarily the bishop oversees the Easter Vigil service and confers confirmation upon the catechumens, but often—due to large distances or numbers of catechumens—a local parish priest will perform the rites.

    The final state of Christian initiation is known as mystagogy, in which the new Christians are strengthened in the faith by further instruction and become more deeply rooted in the local Catholic community. The period of mystagogy normally lasts throughout the Easter season (the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost Sunday).

    For the first year of their life as Christians, those who have been received are known as neophytes or "new Christians."
     
  6. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Preparation for Christians



    The means by which those who have already been validly baptized become part of the Church differs considerably from that of the unbaptized.

    Because they have already been baptized, they are already Christians; they are, therefore, not catechumens. Because of their status as Christians, the Church is concerned that they not be confused with those who are in the process of becoming Christians.

    "Those who have already been baptized in another church or ecclesial community should not be treated as catechumens or so designated. Their doctrinal and spiritual preparation for reception into full Catholic communion should be determined according to the individual case, that is, it should depend on the extent to which the baptized person has led a Christian life within a community of faith and been appropriately catechized to deepen his or her inner adherence to the Church" (NSC 30).

    For those who were baptized but who have never been instructed in the Christian faith or lived as Christians, it is appropriate for them to receive much of the same instruction in the faith as catechumens, but they are still not catechumens and are not to be referred to as such (NSC 3). As a result, they are not to participate in the rites intended for catechumens, such as the scrutinies. Even "[t]he rites of presentation of the creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the book of the Gospels are not proper except for those who have received no Christian instruction and formation" (NSC 31).

    For those who have been instructed in the Christian faith and have lived as Christians, the situation is different. The U.S. Conference of Bishops states, "Those baptized persons who have lived as Christians and need only instruction in the Catholic tradition and a degree of probation within the Catholic community should not be asked to undergo a full program parallel to the catechumenate" (NSC 31). For this reason, they should not share in the same, full RCIA programs that catechumens do.

    The timing of their reception into the Church also is different. The U.S. Conference of Bishops states, "It is preferable that reception into full communion not take place at the Easter Vigil lest there be any confusion of such baptized Christians with the candidates for baptism, possible misunderstanding of or even reflection upon the sacrament of baptism celebrated in another church or ecclesial community . . . " (NSC 33).

    Rather than being received on Easter Vigil, "[t]he reception of candidates into the communion of the Catholic Church should ordinarily take place at the Sunday Eucharist of the parish community, in such a way that it is understood that they are indeed Christian believers who have already shared in the sacramental life of the Church and are now welcomed into the Catholic Eucharistic community . . ." (NSC 32).

    Christians coming into the Catholic Church must discuss with their pastor and/or bishop the amount of instruction needed and the time of their reception.
     
  7. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Peace with God



    The sacrament of baptism removes all sins committed prior to it, but since Christians have already been baptized, it is necessary for them to confess mortal sins committed since baptism before receiving confirmation and the Eucharist.

    In some cases, this can be difficult due to a large number of years between the Christian’s baptism and reception into the Catholic Church. In such cases, the candidate should confess the mortal sins he can remember by kind and, to the extent possible, indicate how often such sins were committed. As always with the sacrament of reconciliation, the absolution covers any mortal sins that could not be remembered, so long as the recipient intended to repent of all mortal sins.

    Christians coming into the Church should receive the sacrament of reconciliation before their reception into the Church (there is no established point for when they should do this) to ensure that they are in a state of grace when they are received and confirmed. Their formation in the faith should stress that frequent confession is part of Catholic life: "The celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation with candidates for reception into full communion is to be carried out at a time prior to and distinct from the celebration of the rite of reception. As part of the formation of such candidates, they should be encouraged in the frequent celebration of this sacrament" (NSC 36).

    The Christian fully enters the Church by profession of faith and formal reception. For the profession of faith, the candidate says, "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God."

    The bishop or priest then formally receives the Christian into the Church by saying, "[Name], the Lord receives you into the Catholic Church. His loving kindness has led you here, so that in the unity of the Holy Spirit you may have full communion with us in the faith that you have professed in the presence of his family."

    The bishop or priest then normally administers the sacrament of confirmation and celebrates the holy Eucharist, giving the new Catholic the Eucharist for the first time.

    Reception in Special Cases



    In some situations, there may be doubts whether a person’s baptism was valid. All baptisms are assumed valid, regardless of denomination, unless after serious investigation there is reason to doubt that the candidate was baptized with water and the Trinitarian formula (". . . in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"), or that the minister or recipient of baptism did not intend it to be an actual baptism.

    If there are doubts about the validity of a person’s baptism (or whether the person was baptized at all), then the candidate will be given a conditional baptism (one with the form ". . . if you are not already baptized, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit").

    "If conditional baptism . . . seems necessary, this must be celebrated privately rather than at a public liturgical assembly of the community and with only those limited rites which the diocesan bishop determines. The reception into full communion should take place later at the Sunday Eucharist of the community" (NSC 37).

    Another special case concerns those who have been baptized as Catholics but who were not brought up in the faith or who have not received the sacraments of confirmation and the Eucharist. "Although baptized adult Catholics who have never received catechetical instruction or been admitted to the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist are not catechumens, some elements of the usual catechumenal formation are appropriate to their preparation for the sacraments, in accord with the norms of the ritual, Preparation of Uncatechized Adults for Confirmation and Eucharist" (NSC 25).
     
  8. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    WHETHER or not you are Catholic, you may have questions about the Catholic faith. You may have heard challenges to the Catholic Church’s claim to be the interpreter and safeguard of the teachings of Jesus Christ.


    Such challenges come from door-to-door missionaries who ask, "Are you saved?", from peer pressure that urges you to ignore the Church’s teachings, from a secular culture that whispers "There is no God."

    You can’t deal with these challenges unless you understand the basics of the Catholic faith. This booklet introduces them to you.

    In Catholicism you will find answers to life’s most troubling questions: Why am I here? Who made me? What must I believe? How must I act? All these can be answered to your satisfaction, if only you will open yourself to God’s grace, turn to the Church he established, and follow his plan for you (John 7:17).

     
  9. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Catholic Facts and General Knowledge


    Catholic Belief
    • I. To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world. Man must know, love and serve God in a supernatural manner in order to gain happiness of heaven. Man is raised to the supernatural order only by grace, a free gift of God.
    • II. We learn to know, love, and serve God from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who teaches us through the Catholic Church.
    • III. In order to be saved, all persons who have attained the use of reason must believe explicitly that God exist and that he rewards the good and punishes the wicked; in practice they must also believe in the mysteries of the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation.
    • IV. By the Blessed Trinity we mean one and the same God in three divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
    • V. By the Incarnation is meant that the Son of God, retaining His divine nature, took to Himself a human nature, that is, a body and soul like ours.
    • VI. The Church is the congregation of all baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacrifice, and the same sacraments, under the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him.
    • VII. We find the chief truths taught by Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church in the Apostles' Creed.
    The Commandments
    • Besides believing what God has revealed, we must keep His law.
    The Two Great Commandments

    that contain the whole law of God are:

    You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind, and with your whole strength; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.


    To love God, our neighbor, and ourselves, we must keep the commandments of God and of the Church, and perform the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

    The Ten Commandments of God
    1. I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me.
    2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
    3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's day
    4. Honor your father and your mother.
    5. You shall not kill.
    6. You shall not commit adultery.
    7. You shall not steal.
    8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
    10. You shall not covet you neighbor's goods.
    The Chief Commandments or Laws, of the Church
    1. To assist at Mass on all Sundays and holy days of obligation.
    2. To fast and abstain on the days appointed.
    3. To confess our sins at least once a year.
    4. To receive Holy Communion during the Easter time.
    5. To contribute to the support of the Church.
    6. To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage.
     
  10. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Becoming a Catholic

    Interested In Learning More About The Catholic Church?

    Welcome! This page explains the process by which one can - through their local Catholic church - learn more about the faith. We hope this information is helpful to you!

    The process by which adults come into the Church has come to be known as "the RCIA", which is short for "The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults."

    Who is the process for?

    1. The unbaptized. The primary focus of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is on those who are not already Christian and have not been catechized.
    2. Baptized but uncatechized. Those who have been baptized either as Roman Catholics or as members of another Christian community but did not receive further catechetical formation or instruction. These typically have also not celebrated confirmation nor Eucharist.
    3. Those seeking full Catholic Communion. These are baptized, practicing Christians from other denominations who seek entry into the Catholic Church.
    In the case of children who have reached the age of reason, the proper pastor should be consulted for information about Baptism and the other Sacraments of Initiation.

    The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is not for adult candidates for confirmation who have already received their First Eucharist in the Catholic Church. They should have their own formation process and be confirmed at a celebration other than the Easter Vigil.

    What does the process look like?

    The Rite of Christian Initiation is based on the principle that the process of conversion proceeds gradually, in stages. Progress from one stage to the next is marked by a liturgical celebration in the midst of the parish community. The experience and needs of those in each category described above differ, and so the length of time may vary for each person. Nevertheless, there are certain similarities among all the groups and the process they will experience, and these can be listed as follows:

    Precatechumenate

    The first stage is called the period of inquiry (or the precatechumenate). This is when the individual first expresses an interest in becoming a Christian or a Catholic, and begins to explore, with the help of the parish community, what his or her relationship with Christ might be and how that might be enriched and deepened by joining this Christian community. There is no liturgical rite to mark the beginning of this stage. This period of inquiry may last several months or several years and ends either when the inquirer decides against continuing in this direction or when the inquirer feels ready to move on and the community is prepared to welcome him or her.

    Catechumenate

    The second stage is called the catechumenate and, for the unbaptized listed above, who are now called catechumens, should last no less than one full year. For the baptized but uncatechized the period should be a similar length. For the candidates for full communion, this stage could well be much shorter. The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and the Rite of Welcoming mark the beginning of this stage. Catechesis for this period is rooted in the Lectionary and the Word as it is proclaimed in the midst of the community. This is also a time for the catechumen or candidate to learn how to live as a Catholic Christian. This period ends when the catechumens and candidates express their desire to receive the sacraments of initiation and the community acknowledges their readiness.

    Purification and Enlightenment

    The third stage is the period of purification and enlightenment and coincides with Lent. During this time the elect (formerly the catechumens) and the candidates enter into a period of intense preparation and prayer which includes the three public celebrations of the scrutinies and is marked by the presentations of the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. The Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion are celebrated at the beginning of this stage. This period ends with the celebration of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. (Note: only the elect are baptized. All the groups are confirmed and welcomed to the table.)

    Mystagogy

    The fourth stage is the period of post baptismal catechesis or mystagogy. At this time, the newly initiated explore their experience of being fully initiated through participation with all the faithful at Sunday Eucharist and through appropriate catechesis. The period formally lasts through the Easter season and may be marked by a parish celebration on or near Pentecost. On a more informal level, mystagogy is a lifelong process, one that all Christians are engaged in, as we all work to deepen our sense of what it means to live the Christian life.

    It is important to note that those who fall into the third category above (candidates for full communion) do not always need to take part in the full process. Especially if they have been actively living the Christian life in another denomination, they are likely in need of very little catechesis and may be welcomed into the Church on any Sunday after a short period of preparation. According to the National Statutes for the Catechumenate, "Those baptized persons who have lived as Christians and need only instruction in the Catholic tradition and a degree of probation within the Catholic community should not be asked to undergo a full program parallel to the catechumenate."

    I'm interested. What should my first step be?

    Contact your nearest Catholic parish . Your Catholic priest can discuss with you the specifics of the initiation process at your local parish. Know that the prayers of a 65 million Catholics in the United States and the 1.2 Billion Catholics around the world are with you as you complete your journey. Best wishes!

    www.catholic.org
     
  11. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    I Came to You Late
    I came to You late, O Beauty so ancient and new. I came to love You late. You were within me and I was outside where I rushed about wildly searching for You like some monster loose in Your beautiful world. You were with me but I was not with You. You called me, You shouted to me, You wrapped me in Your Splendour, You broke past my deafness, You bathed me in Your Light, You sent my blindness reeling. You gave out such a delightful fragrance and I drew it in and came breathing hard after You. I tasted, and it made me hunger and thirst; You touched me, and I burned to know Your Peace.

    St. Augustine of Hippo
     
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