The RCIA program contains classes that are intended for those who are not members of the Catholic church and would like to be. Folks enter into a formation process to receive the sacraments of initiation; these are Confirmation, Baptism, and Eucharist and usually takes place on the Easter Vigil. The person is gradually introduced to various aspects of Catholic practices and beliefs.
There are four key periods in the initiation process, and they are separated by various rituals, which celebrate and express what occurs at each stage.
- Evangelization and pre-catechumenate
- Period Of Catechumenate
- Purification and Enlightenment
- Period of Mystagogy.
Of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
When you try to figure out how the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) came into existence, you may have to go back to the early church when the 12 Apostles were directly in charge of it. These would go through the countries and towns spreading the Good News, and they usually came across small communities where people would come together in small groups to study the works of Jesus and meditate on the word of God. They would work communally on the call to convert. It was done at a time when persecution had become very common, and most of the people who participated in this knew what they would face: that their conversion would demand possible martyrdom.
The educational and transformational process began to have some form after the first 100 years of the church. This was the initial establishment of the Catechumenate – a process that is used even to this day. The conversion process was very comprehensive as to make sure that each person clearly understood the Christian culture, the teachings, and history.
we went on to the third and fourth centuries, this process had developed into a
3-year program. However, it was not fully developed and had very little
structure. By the fifth century, the Catechumenate had begun to experience
challenges. Some thought that the need for a lengthy initiation process was no longer necessary because
children were being baptized as infants. The
lack of the Catechumenate caused both the Augustinians and the Dominican Order to
start the process of re-establishing the Catechumenate.
They didn’t like how the practice of baptisms was occurring during mass. However, the process of re-establishment was unsuccessful, and it remained unchanged to the early 20th century.
There was a movement in the early 1900s that wanted to re-add the Catechumenate in the process of conversion. This too was faced with many problems due to the number of nonpracticing Catholics. From those early days to the present this process has evolved immensely. Catholic bishops have refused to change the program to date. They feel that it is important to the society in the process of conversion.