St Francis Q&A

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spread the word about RCIA!

"Justin" writes, "Father,I am a baptized presbyterian who is very interested in becoming Catholic. I have attended Catholic mass for the last year and have questions regarding the Eucharist. I truly believe in the power of the Eucharist and how it truly is the body and blood of Christ. I read your post and others online to find out if my own beliefs and desire to become Catholic would be enough for me to share in this sacrament. In one post I found this:The guidelines for receiving Communion, which are issued by the U.S. bishops and published in many missalettes, explain, 'We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that they may all be one” (John 17:21).' Is this true. Thank you father for your advice. God Bless."

Justin, thanks very much for your post. Great to hear of your interest in becoming Catholic, especially with your focus on the Eucharist! The Eucharist is the center of our Church’s life, so you definitely have your eye on the target. It is clear to me that you are open to “the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist”; it is the Spirit who is leading you to the Bread of Life, and I would encourage you to remain open in your heart, mind, and strength.

You write “is this true”. If you are referring to the bishops’ statement, yes this is the statement from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1996 which serves as the guidelines on the reception of communion. You (or anyone else) can click on the title of this post for the full text of guidelines.

If you are referring to your point that “my own beliefs and desire to become Catholic would be enough for me to share in this sacrament”, that is partially true. Of course, it’s a big part!! But, the other big part is played by the Church. As you probably know, the Church has requirements for someone in your position to become Catholic, and to be able to fully share in the Eucharist. It’s analogous to a marriage: you might be ready to get married at this time, but your spouse-to-be wants to make sure that you’re on the same page with stuff and to take your time.

In that spirit, the Church has a program for adults who have not been baptized as well as baptized non-Catholics who desire to become Catholic. It is called RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). Here at St. Andrew’s, the program goes from September through Easter. The purpose of the program is to prepare those who will be received fully into the Church at Easter with intellectual, spiritual, and personal formation. The duration of the program might seem a bit long (it used to be three years), but it’s similar to a wedding engagement. Just as an engagement period reveals if a future spouse has love that will last, so, too, the time of preparation to come into the Church reveals that a future Catholic has faith that will last. In other words, it’s a sign that the person’s faith is not just a passing faith.

While the program officially begins in September, we will have an “Inquiry” period in a few weeks. There will be announcements in the bulletin and at Mass, so if you are in the parish, please be on the look-out for the information. If you know of anyone else who might be interested in attending, please spread the word to them. If you or anyone else have questions that you would prefer to ask privately, please click on my profile for my email address, and send me an email.

One final word about where you are with the Eucharist and where you want to go. It comes again from the bishops’ statement referring to “those not receiving Holy Communion”. “All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.” Praise God that you have this desire in your heart for unity with the Lord Jesus and the Church! That desire will be satisfied the day that you receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion, with God’s help. It is an awesome day!! You can ask those who just received the Eucharist for the first time at Easter this year. And, they will tell you, it is worth the wait.


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