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Everything You Wanted to Know about RCIA & How to Join the Catholic Church

RCIA & How to Join the Catholic Church via @ACatholicNewbie

If you are curious about the Catholic church, want to learn more about it or are even ready to convert, what can you do? Join your local Catholic church’s RCIA program. What in the heck is RCIA, you ask?!

What is RCIA?

RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and it is the formal program that allows individuals to become members of the Catholic church. RCIA programs tend to start in the fall, so NOW is the time to make your move if you’ve been considering it :).

Joining RCIA, however, does NOT mean you HAVE to join the church. You are always welcome to just come and learn, and if you decide it’s not for you — or maybe you just aren’t ready yet because you have more questions — you can opt out or continue on again next year.

RCIA programs generally go from September through Easter, at which time individuals are officially brought in as members of the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass, which is the mass held the evening before Easter. It is a beautiful mass and ceremony where you are baptized (only if you have not been baptized by a Christian church in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), confirmed and receive the Eucharist (which Catholics maintain is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ).

How do I sign up for RCIA?

First, visit a few local Catholic churches and find one that feels “right” to you. Then visit their website and look for Faith Formation, Adult Formation or RCIA. If you can’t find it, simply call the main office at the church and tell them you are interested in RCIA or in learning more about the church as a non-Catholic and as an adult and they will direct you to the correct person for more information.

RCIA programs usually meet once a week, some on weeknights, others on weekends. So you will want to consider a program that works for your schedule as well, as you’ll want to be there as often as possible.

What is RCIA like?

While each church is different, throughout the process you will learn about key tenets of the Catholic faith and its history, and have an opportunity to ask questions, inquire about your doubts and concerns and discuss different aspects of the faith.

There are also various welcoming ceremonies held during mass to provide “grace” (help from God) and prayer as you go through this process so that God might guide you as grow in your learning and practice of the faith. These ceremonies are no big deal — simply standing up at mass with the priest saying a prayer over you along with others in your group. The Catholic church wants to welcome you and educate you, never pressure you, and that is what the process is about.

If you find an RCIA group that does not feel like a fit, don’t be afraid to opt out and look for a different parish. Pray that God will guide you to where you need to be.

Why do people come to RCIA?

I have been involved with RCIA at my parish both going through it and assisting for several years. We hear all kinds of stories of why people have joined RCIA. Here are a few: someone who was inspired by Pope Francis, other who are marrying Catholics and wanting to raise kids in the same faith, spouses who are converting after as many as 20 years, those feeling a direct calling from God, and those who are simply just interested in exploring Catholicism more in depth and learning the truth about the faith.

We’ve had people who are already Catholic who don’t feel like they know as much as they’d like about their faith and others who simply just come to welcome newcomers to the church. They are single, married, in high school, grandparents, pregnant, going through an annulment, former atheists, Baptists and Methodists. You name it, they’ve been there! So never feel like you’re alone or have too unusual a story to join the group.

What questions do you have about RCIA? What’s stopping you from signing up? How can I help?

Getting to Know Jesus: 10 Ways to Grow Closer to our Lord and Savior

Getting to Know Jesus: 10 Ways to Grow Closer via @ACatholicNewbie

If you want to become holy, be a saint, remain steadfast in your Christian faith, you’ve got to get to know Jesus. I struggled with this early on in my conversion. I felt like I did not know Jesus, that He did not want to know me (why would He want to know lowly ol’ me?) and I was, in fact, intimated by him. I pictured Jesus overthrowing the money-changers’ tables and some of the harsher statements he made. So I was distant.

But soon I realized that if I was going to be a saint — or strive to be — I’d better get to know Jesus!

Here are 10 ways I found that helped me draw closer and truly develop a personal relationship with Jesus, something I believe is crucial to true Christian conversion:

  1. Receive Jesus – Tops on the list of ways to grow closer to Jesus has to be receiving him in the form of the Eucharist. This is a special gift enjoyed by Catholics, whose priests transform ordinary bread and wine into the living God by repeating Jesus’ words at the last supper. When we receive Jesus, we meet Him in the flesh and we literally carry Him with us out into the world. Receive Jesus as often as you can!
  2. Read the Gospels over and over – This tip I attribute to author Matthew Kelly, but it’s a key one. A wonderful way to get to know Jesus better is to read about him and the main place we can do that is through the Gospels. Read them over and over, a little each day, letting Jesus’ words and actions sink in. Kelly, in his book Rediscover Jesus, recommends imagining yourself as different people in the stories to place yourself in the context of what is happening.
  3. Spend time in adoration – In addition to receiving the Eucharist, we can also be in Jesus’ presence by simply being in the presence of the Eucharist. Try to visit your church’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel (where you can always find Jesus in the Eucharist identified by the red candle burning outside the door) or during Adoration where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed versus locked away. Read, pray, write or just sit in the quiet presence of Jesus. Many experience vocational callings and other insights during adoration.
  4. Encounter Him in Reconciliation – Did you know when you go to Reconciliation, you are in the presence of Jesus? Jesus is present in the priest, no matter which priest you see. In Reconciliation, he pours out his mercy upon us, forgiving our sins and giving us graces to help us from sinning again and to grow in holiness. Other than the Eucharist, it’s one of the few places you can encounter Jesus. Go and go often!
  5. Choose a stage of Jesus’ life you can relate to – If you’re like me and struggled feeling close to the Jesus in the Gospels, consider Jesus at a more vulnerable time of life. St. Therese of Liseiux developed a devotion to the infant Jesus. Can you picture Jesus as a tiny baby, cooing in his mother’s arms, nestled close to Mary’s heart? Start there. Talk to the Baby Jesus or Jesus as a youth, working with his father as a carpenter.
  6. Talk to Jesus – How can you really get to know anyone without talking to them regularly? You can read about them, but is that the same as really knowing them? Develop the HABIT of talking to Jesus all day long. Thank Him for the beautiful day, the blue skies and birds singing — for every good thing that happens during your day. Ask for help when you have a decision to make — big or small. Tell Him when you are frustrated, stressed, happy or joyful. He wants you to talk to Him!
  7. Read Jesus Calling – It can be hard, of course, when the person you’re trying to get to know doesn’t talk back to you — in words, at least. I’ve found Jesus Calling, and the version for kids, to be a great way for me and my kids to grow closer to Jesus. The book is a daily reflection where the author puts all of Jesus’ teachings into words, as if He were talking directly to you. It’s helps us, in all our humanness, to hear His words as if they were spoken directly to us.
  8. Read Rediscover Jesus – Author Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic has written a new book with the aim of helping Christians — and all people — develop a personal relationship with Jesus. He does a wonderful job of considering Jesus’ teachings and the example He left us to help us understand how we can live as He desired in the context of our modern society.
  9. Pray the Rosary – Of course, we associate the rosary with Mary, because she’s the one who gave us the prayer, asked us to pray it and it’s filled with Hail Marys. But the Rosary is really about Jesus. If you pray the rosary daily — or as often as you can — you will be meditating day in and day out on the life of Jesus. Each day is a different set of “mysteries” or events in Jesus’ life to meditate upon as you say the prayers of the rosary. You’ll find new insights pour in as you contemplate these events over and over every time you pray the rosary.
  10. Read The Diary of St. Faustina and the Flame of Love (free copy here) – These two books, which are approved by the Catholic Church as communications of Jesus, present a more personal voice of Jesus and can help you relate better to Him. Two passages I bring to mind often while looking at the Cross are His request that Elizabeth Kindelmann call him “my most adorable Jesus” and his request that she imagine herself “nestled close to his merciful heart.” I can certainly picture myself there.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to get to know Jesus! Please share what has worked for you and what a difference it has made in your life to have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior.

From RCIA to Confession, My 10 Most Popular Posts

From RCIA to Reconciliation, @ACatholicNewbie's Tip 10 Posts

I continue to see that specific posts consistently have the most readers, so I thought I would compile a list of some of the most popular topics I’ve written about. Please enjoy the following Top 10 Most Popular Posts on Catholic Newbie listed in order of popularity:

  1. 10 Things I Wish all Non-Catholic Christians Knew about Catholicism
  2. How to Start a Conversation about Catholicism Anywhere
  3. 13 Things to Do After RCIA to Keep Your Faith on Fire
  4. Tweet These Companies that Support Planned Parenthood
  5. 11 Ways to Work the Rosary into Your Busy Day
  6. The 1 Thing I Wish All RCIA Candidates Knew About Confession
  7. My Conversion Story
  8. The Spiritual Riches of Catholicism: From Prayer Groups to Spiritual Bouquets
  9. 5 Must-Dos for the RCIA Candidate
  10. My First Reconciliation Through RCIA

Thanks to all of you for continuing to give these posts life by sharing them on your favorite social networks and via email, parish newsletters and beyond!

 

Amazing Catholic Conversion Stories up to 20% Off

Catholic conversion storiesIf you entered my recent giveaway of Marcus Grodi’s Journeys Home and Journeys Home 2, amazing stories of Protestants who converted to Catholicism, but didn’t win, you now have a chance to buy them at a discount.

CatholicWord, who kindly provided the books for the giveaway, is discounting many of Grodi’s books. They are currently 15% off one title or 20% off two or more. That’s a great savings for books!

Order them below and get inspired as we head into a new school year:

Happy reading!

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