Becoming a Catholic
There may be all kinds of reasons why someone might want to become a Catholic. Hopefully, the main reason has something to do with Jesus. It is always Christ who calls us, always Christ who searches for us, always Christ who draws us into deeper friendship and deeper company with him.
Becoming a Catholic is always something to do with Jesus and always about seeking an identity which flows from belonging to him. Being a Catholic is not so much a journey into something but into someone – a journey into a relationship with Christ and into a relationship with a community of faith – a community of disciples who seek to follow and live the gospel Jesus preaches.
If you are interested in becoming a Catholic, why not get in touch with Fr Christopher and start that conversation and that journey.
RCIA – The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
This avenue to deepen one’s understanding of the Catholic faith is essentially for those who are not baptised. This beautiful journey of faith, grounded in the practice of the early Church, accompanies an individual into entering into the life of a community. The RCIA is about walking with someone as they grow in relationship with the Christ who calls them into love with him. It is not a programme nor is it simply a series of talks: it is the process in which the Church makes Christians. There is a gradual journey into Christ and a gradual conversion into the ways of the Gospel. The RCIA is about hearing the Gospel of Christ and seeking to live it as best one can. The RCIA is about walking with someone to baptism, to confirmation and to the Eucharist – the three sacraments of Initiation and belonging.
What if I am already baptised?
Then, really, it’s not the RCIA process you need. The Church honours the baptism of other Christian communities and a person can only be baptised once in their lifetime. There is no need to re-baptise; the Church affirms that baptism and confirms it in the Sacrament of Confirmation. It’s as part of that particular journey that a person deepens their Christian faith and seeks to understand all that is asked of an individual as part of a Catholic Community. The journey for someone who is already baptised and seeks to be a Catholic is one whereby they are received into full communion with the Catholic Church, confirmed and admitted to the Eucharist.
How should I take this further?
First, pray! Open your heart to the Lord who is calling you closer to him. Open your heart to listen to the sound of his voice. Deepen your awareness of where he is in your life and allow him to draw you close through that hunger and that searching and that yearning for him. Secondly, read one of the Gospels. We are not dealing with things and programmes here; we are dealing with a relationship with Jesus – and that is most personal thing.
By reading the Gospels you grow in your familiarity with the Lord you want to follow and the Lord who wants you to follow him. If you do not grow in your understanding of who he is and who he is calling you to be then the journey will be tiresome. Whether it’s the journey of the RCIA or the journey into full communion with the journey, it is about getting to know Christ, of encountering him and allowing him to speak his love to you. It is not a journey of the head (although there has to be some head stuff); it is a journey of the heart and the unfolding narrative of God’s love for us, his people.
How long does the RCIA process take?
Those seeking baptism normally journey towards the Easter Vigil and so the RCIA group gathers from September through to April (and beyond) but it is fair to say that it takes as long as it takes for an individual to feel that they are ready for this important step. There is no rush; it is always person centred and if an individual’s journey takes longer than someone else’s, then that’s fine.
The team of Catechists is there to adapt the process to the needs of those who are part of that journey. It’s not a rush and there is no race to get everyone to the font! The Catechists are there to walk with an individual entering into the life of the community; they are there to hold you by the hand as you take those first steps of faith so that ears are open to listen to the Word of God change and transform you, so that eyes are open to see Christ as part of your life, so that hearts are open to receive the love that Christ has to reveal, and so that lives are shaped and fashioned according to the likeness of Christ himself.
Contact Fr Christopher Whitehead for more information.