The Inquiry Stage
So now you have fully decided to take the plunge. You went to one of the pre-RCIA meetings in the summer, met the team, and filled out one of the forms they gave you. You may have done some research about what RCIA is about, and thought that it was something that suited you. But now the real work begins. Now comes the first class, where you and others like you get together and talk about becoming Catholic. What exactly does that all hold for you?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” – Matthew 7:7
The first thing that you will find is that you are not alone in this journey. You have others that are like you, wondering exactly what it is to be Catholic, or like I was, seeking faith for truly the first time in your life. While some RCIA programs are different, the one I went through had both those who were seeking to be baptized, confirmed, and receive communion for the first time along with those from other faith’s seeking to become Catholic. There are also those who were baptized Catholic, but for whatever reason did not go through confirmation as a child or young adult.
While all this may seem very foreign to you right now, at the end of the process, you will have a firm grasp on all the workings of RCIA, or at least a good foundation of it. For now though, you are just wondering what is the first step? Well, you have already taken that first step by asking, seeking, and knocking. That is how Jesus starts to get into your heart, and open the way for you to become Christian.
Those first few weeks that you are in RCIA, attending class and getting some basic instruction, that period is called the inquiry period. Anyone who is going through the process during that time is called and inquirer, because you are inquiring about what this is all about. You may or may not have a sponsor right at the onset, depending on if you have someone who has already agreed to sponsor you, or if there is someone in the room who is there to help you with your journey. I know that for my journey, I did not have a sponsor right away, but because the team took a bit to get to know me, they found someone who was willing to sponsor me, and was also a good fit for the journey. It is truly important that you have someone who is a good fit, because that person will be considered your godparent at the end of the journey.
So what will you do in those first few weeks as an inquirer? For starters, you will get to hear other people’s journey, and be able to share your story as well. I know that the one thing that was truly important to me from going to RCIA was hearing the stories. Parents coming in to the church because they want to give their children a foundation of Christ in their lives, as well as their own. People like me who found they could not do it on their own anymore, and needed Christ in their lives. Spouses who were friends of the church because their spouse was Catholic, but for their own reason took their time to come to wanting to become Catholic. There are those who are from other faiths, but decided that becoming Catholic was something that appealed to them for their own reasons. There are so many different stories, stories of pain, stories of emotional baggage melting away because of that one decision; to want a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Some other things that you will do is learn some terminology and language that will help you to understand what exactly the team is talking about down the road when you get into the meat of RCIA.
- Catechism: a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.
- Catechesis: oral religious instruction, especially before baptism or confirmation.
- Catechumenate: The Catechumenate is a process of Christian formation offered to those who seek to become members of the Catholic Church. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) refers to the liturgical rites belonging to the Catechumenate, and includes an adaptation for children.
- Liturgy: a fixed set of ceremonies, words, etc., that are used during public worship in a religion.
There are many other words that you will learn from the onset of RCIA, but these are important to know because they directly pertain to each of you going through this journey.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” – Matthew 11:28
While this is a critical part of the beginning of your formation, I strongly suggest that you do not try to force anything. You will look back on this and realize how little you knew about the church. What is important is that you get to know those around you, those who are journeying with you, because their stories will be what you will remember the most from this part of the process.
Also, remember, this is a process. The period of inquiry does come to an end, and a new definition will become your ‘title’ through the bulk of this process. While I won’t go into details in this particular part of the series, I will say that you will expand on what you are already doing in class, and you will attend Mass as a group for the first time at the end of this period. Some things I won’t explain, but will leave that up to the team that is guiding you through this process, so that they can fulfill their mission towards service in Christ.
And yes, while this is a process and a journey, remember that you should enjoy the journey. For it is something that you will remember for the rest of your life, and if you invest into it, will change your life in a way you cannot imagine. I know for me personally that I would never have imagined at the beginning of the RCIA journey that I would be writing about it, or podcasting about faith as I do, but God had a plan for me. Remember that God has a plan for you too, and trust that he will take care of you.
And remember always, that the journey does not end when you accept Jesus into your life, it begins. So Go Live Your Faith today!