RCIA Glossary

| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M |

| N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


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| A | return to top |

acclamation: a short sung statement

assembly: all who gather for a liturgy


| B | return to top |

Book of the Elect: a book that serves as both a record of those elected each year and a symbol of God’s chosen people


| C | return to top |

candidate: a baptized Christian who is preparing to become a Catholic; in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the term “candidate” is also used to refer to the subjects of a rite, which includes catechumens and inquirers

cantor: one who leads the assembly in song

catechesis: Greek, meaning “sounding down” or “re-echoing down to another”; a way of communicating faith

catechumen: Greek, meaning “one in whom word echoes”; one who celebrated the Rite of Acceptance; an unbaptized person who is preparing for full initiation at the Easter Vigil

catechumenate: the period of time and the structure within which the catechumens prepare for initiation; “catechumenate” is also used as a synonym for the entire Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

convert: another term for a catechumen; “convert” should never be used to refer to a baptized person who is preparing to become a Catholic;


| D | return to top |

dismissal: a sending; catechumens are sent after homily to reflect on God’s Word; the baptized are sent at Mass to “go, love and serve the Lord;” not meant to separate but to enable one’s mission


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elect: name given to catechumens chosen by God and affirmed by the Church as ready to celebrate baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist at the next Easter Vigil; catechumens who have gone through the Rite of Election or Enrollment Rite on the first Sunday of Lent; the elect are those who are involved in immediate preparation for initiation at the upcoming Easter Vigil

election: the formal liturgical act of choosing those who have been called by God to celebrate the initiation sacraments; the election is proclaimed by the Bishop of a diocese

enrollment of names: another name for the Rite of Election; the formal liturgical act of gathering and recording the names of those ready to be initiated at the next Easter Vigil

evangelization: first stage of RCIA, of unfixed duration, also called inquiry or precatechumenate; proclaiming faith in Christ; mission of the baptized

exegesis: the scholarly, scientific interpretation of the Scriptures


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Gathering Rite: the beginning of a liturgy that helps the assembly unite and focus on the liturgy

godparent: a person chosen by a catechumen to be a lifelong companion and mentor in the Christian faith; someone who makes a life-long commitment to be a spiritual mentor to a catechumen who decides to be baptized; can be the same person as the sponsor


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inquirer: name given to the unbaptized who are drawn to the Christian way of life; a person seeking basic information about Catholicism or Christianity; this person may or may not eventually join the church; also called a “precatechumen”


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lectionary: the official, liturgical book from which the reader (lector) proclaims the Scripture readings used in the Liturgy of the Word

liturgy: a set structure of prayers, readings, songs, and symbolic actions that is celebrated by a group of people together

Liturgy of the Eucharist: the prayers and songs around the altar, and the sharing of consecrated bread and wine during the Mass

Liturgy of the Word: the proclamation of Scripture and songs from the Bible followed by a reflection and prayers


| M | return to top |

Mass: one of the liturgies of the Church that consists of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist

mystagogy: a process for reflecting on an encounter with God in order to discover the meaning for one’s life behind the encounter; means “study of the mysteries;” this reflection process can be used after any liturgical celebration; also the name of the period following baptism


| N | return to top |

neophyte: a newly baptized person; means “new plant”


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psalm: a song from the book of Psalms found in the Bible


| R | return to top |

RCIA: stands for “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults;” process for becoming Christian

RCIC and RCIY: fictional beasts; there is only one rite—the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults; adaptations of this one rite are made for children, youth, and previously baptized people; the only appropriate acronym is “RCIA;” in the parish, more user-friendly terms are encouraged

Rite of Acceptance: first public rite for those becoming Catholic; marks transition from inquiry period to catechumenate period

Rite of Election: a liturgical rite that takes place at the beginning of Lent which formally names those who will be baptized at the next Easter Vigil


| S | return to top |

scrutinies: the three scrutinies are rituals for the elect that “are meant to uncover, then heal, all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect” (RCIA 141). They are normally celebrated on the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent. Click here to read posts on TeamRCIA.com about the scrutinies.

signing of the senses: ritual act of tracing the sign of the cross on the catechumen’s forehead and other parts of the body during the Rite of Acceptance

sponsor: a companion that walks with a catechumen or candidate through the catechumenate process; ideally assigned to a catechumen by the parish, in discussion with the catechumen or candidate

suffrages: The National Statutes state that the catechumens should be encouraged to seek blessings and “other suffrages” from the church (8). Suffrages can be any prayer for the catechumens. Specifically, the RCIA offers the minor exorcisms as examples of suffrages that might be prayed for the catechumens.


| T | return to top |

Triduum: the “three-days” of Easter; day 1: Holy Thursday evening to Good Friday evening; day 2: Good Friday evening to Holy Saturday evening; day 3: Easter Vigil to Easter Evening Prayer; the normative time when unbaptized persons are baptized into the Church at the Easter Vigil; in addition to Sundays, the most important feast of the year


| W | return to top |

worship aid: a booklet given to the assembly that includes the music, prayers, and other information to help them participate in the liturgy

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