Author: Kathy Horan
Our Church is currently still basking in the surge of newness of life and purpose ushered in with the celebration of Easter.
The joy of the risen Lord is with us and before us as we come together as communities to remember that goodness has overcome evil, light shines forth and dispels all kinds of darkness, joy takes the place of sadness and hope urges us on as God’s people, called to see life differently.
At the Easter Vigil, many candidates who had come inquiring about what it means to become Catholic were formally received into the Catholic Church. They were fully initiated into the Church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. Several others, baptised in other Christian churches, were received into full communion with the Catholic Church, being confirmed and then celebrating first Communion.
In the months leading up to the Easter Vigil each of these candidates began a process of journeying with the community where they were supported in asking questions about the Catholic Church, and expressed a desire to enter into relationship with the Lord. This journey is a spiritual journey in faith, where candidates are supported in seeing traces of God in their lives, learning about Jesus and his mission to the world and developing a personal relationship with him in prayer. The journey of conversion towards becoming Catholic is set within the context of a living, believing community that welcomes, accepts and continues to encourage the faith and experience of each candidate, and leads by example in living as witnesses to the risen Lord.
In the Acts of the Apostles there is a powerful description of life among the believers and it captures the energy and enthusiasm of the Apostles, renewed in the Spirit.
“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people. And day by day, the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:44-47)
The journey towards ‘becoming Catholic (known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) centres on the Paschal Mystery and our being drawn into the experience of relationship with the Lord Jesus through his life, death and resurrection. In the gospel of John there is a story of an encounter of Jesus with two of John’s disciples. During this chance meeting Jesus asked them what they were looking for, to which they replied with the question: ‘Where do you live?’ Jesus’ response was ‘Come and see’. The story goes on to say that the disciples came, they saw and they stayed with Jesus. The RCIA process enables candidates to come and see, to learn about the Catholic Church and its teachings, and how to share in the mission of Jesus through the activities, prayer, religious celebrations and outreach of the community. It is the work of the whole community to bear witness to Jesus, to support candidates who wish to become Catholic and to provide a welcome to the parish community of believers.
After Easter the Church spends time relishing the newness of life of Easter. Along with our new Catholics, we give thanks to God for their faith and what they bring to our Church; we renew our own baptismal commitment to becoming Catholic anew.