Conversion and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

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5 thoughts on “Conversion and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults”

  1. Great article Nick. I agree, the main cause of recitivism is that candidates are not evangelized during the inquirery/Precat period. #42 in the Ritual speaks of “evidence of first faith” and “initial conversion and intention to change…”. That is why this period has no time limit. Unfortunately, candidates are moved along without meeting these requirements. We have to ask why are they not evangelized? The main problem I believe resides in the Catechist. The Catechist must be “converted”, a disciple, a living witness to the faith they proclaim. In team training we say you can’t give what you don’t have. The conversion centered questions must be asked and answered by the Catechist first before they can pass them on to candidates.

    1. I’m glad you liked the article Walt, but I can’t take credit for it. It was written by Mary Birmingham. Our new web design could do a better job of highlighting author names, but if you look right above the post title, you’ll see the byline.

      Nick

  2. Mary, a great article that provokes a couple of comments:
    Firstly, about the rite: When spending time reading and reflecting on the rite it becomes very clear that there are only a couple of references to knowing doctrine, mostly in #75 and briefly in section 5 “Reception of baptized candidates into full communion of the Catholic church” (rite # numbers will vary depending on national version – US, Canada, AU or GB). Outside these couple of clauses, the direct and inferred intent of the rite is totally focused on conversion to Christ.

    As practitioners of the RCIA, perhaps we could spend more time reflecting on and implementing the intent of RCIA # 105, 106, and 107 (AU numbers but are probably same for US) by using Mary’s conversion-centred questions before moving a catechumen to the rite of election. The same applies to baptized candidates in deciding if they are ready for reception into full communion. These RCIA clauses clearly and firmly require that WE (catechists, sponsors, community) declare that the person has “undergone a conversion in mind and action” to Christ. This places enormous responsibility on us to lead a catechumen or baptized candidate on a journey of conversion to Christ. As Walt points out, this starts from the beginning of the precatechumenate and inquiry period. We can only do this by being constant practitioners of our conversion – I can only pass on what I have experienced myself.

    Second: your comment that the Body of Christ is haemorrhaging should be something that all of us respond to with the urgency we would if it was our own body or the body of someone we love dearly that was haemorrhaging. One way to respond is to become a Christian mentor. I will be a mentor in my wider parish community, not just to a RCIA catechumen or candidate. To be a mentor means I have gone through a process of learning about, understanding, applying, gaining the expertise and experience with my own conversion that I can now share that joyful experience with others to help them do the same.

    Mary, your conversion questions are a useful way to help us become a mentor to others. Perhaps we should be asking: Who could I ask in my parish community to be a mentor to me, and, who could I be a mentor to in the community? Maybe this will help stop the haemorrhaging.

  3. After reading your article I looked at the Pew forum here :http://www.pewforum.org/2009/04/27/faith-in-flux3/ According to them, if you look at the conclusion, 4 in 10 who become former Catholics that are now unaffiliated ” indicated they just do not believe in God or the teachings of most religions (42%). ”

    On the other hand, those who leave to become part of a Protestant group –” When asked why they joined their Protestant denomination, former Catholics most commonly cite enjoying the religious services and the style of worship of their new faith, with fully eight-in-ten (81%) expressing this point of view. Feeling called by God to join their current faith was also mentioned by a majority (62%) of those raised Catholic who have since become Protestant. Those who now belong to evangelical denominations are especially likely (74%) to say this was an important factor in their conversion, compared with just 31% who switched to a mainline Protestant faith. Three-in-ten former Catholics who have become Protestant say they were attracted by a particular minister or pastor, and the same proportion say they joined their new religion because a member invited them.

    More than one-quarter of former Catholics who are now Protestant (28%) say they joined their current faith because they married a member of their current religion.”

    Theses statements would suggests that conversion , history and doctrine including the moral teaching are all very important for avoiding attrition. Many former Catholics I have met had no depth of understanding of the sacraments , of how the Church began and continued, the importance of Apostolic succession, why Tradition is necessary, and so forth. It is vital to teach that there is truth and why truth is important and how it is to be found. This I think is of prime importance—this then lays the foundation for the beauty you speak about and the foundation for conversion and remaining in the Catholic faith. One has to see the importance of truth and how to know it.

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