What would be the requirements for one of our inquirers to become a Catholic? Would she have to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)? She was baptized, received first Communion, and was confirmed as a Lutheran. She is married to a Catholic, and she was married by a Catholic priest. She has been attending Mass for 20 years with her husband, and has raised their two sons in Catholic faith.
In her case, the requirements would be very minimal. She would not be a candidate for the RCIA. The National Statutes for the Catechumenate (an appendix to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) state:
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. (30)
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. (31)
If she has instructed her own children in the Catholic tradition, she probably needs little or no additional instruction herself. And participating in Sunday liturgy for 20 years would certainly qualify as a degree of probation within the Catholic community.
This is a wonderful book for working with baptized candidates.
One at the Table: The Reception of Baptized Christians
Ronald Oakham, et al
I would suggest you meet with her to determine if she has any areas of Catholic tradition that she is still unclear about. If not, then you might suggest that she spends a few weeks in spiritual preparation. Ask her to carve out some extra dedicated time for prayer each day and perhaps plan a day of quiet reflection for her. Suggest that if she is aware of any unresolved sin in her life or simply to benefit from the grace of the sacrament, she should celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation before being received.
The Rite of Reception of a Baptized Christian into Full Communion (RCIA 473) can be celebrated at any Sunday liturgy—usually in Ordinary Time. The rite is very simple. She, her sponsor, and her family would come forward after the homily. She would make a profession of faith, and the presider would confirm her. (Confirmation in the Lutheran Church is not recognized by Catholics as a sacrament.) And then she would celebrate Eucharist with the parish community and share in the Body and Blood of Christ during Communion.
See also these related articles: