Returning Home to Christ

There exists in the human heart an innate yearning to return home. In the context of faith and spirituality, this longing finds its home in God. Our modern world offers much distraction and clutter in our minds, yet this does not eclipse the spiritual hunger within us. This is what the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) responds to. Christ has already initiated the invitation to unbaptised catechumens, and to candidates who have received Baptism in other Christian denominations, to come and see. The Divine manner through which this invitation is offered, may be given through family, friends or other encounters, determined by The Spirit. The Ministry of RCIA is to offer welcome, hospitality and friendship to those we are privileged to walk with, in their conversion journey. RCIA supports those seeking to deepen their relationship with Christ, by providing a sense of welcome home through acceptance and belonging within our Catholic family.

RCIA developed in the early Church when Christian conversion demanded a high price due to the persecution it received. Discernment of faith thereby was a process which involved visible signs of the heart and mind converting to Christ. Greek understanding of the elements of conversion offer an ongoing appreciation of the unfolding nature of faith: Kerygma, identifies the gradual growing in closeness to Christ. Evangelia, involves developing familiarity with Gospel teachings. Koinonia, is experiencing the sense of belonging and acceptance within the Catholic community. Leitourgia, refers to the strengthening practice of prayer and worship. Diakonia, is the relational context of sharing in the caritas of loving service for others. For the fullness of the Catholic faith to be shared it is important to present Lectionary, Liturgical and Instructional based catechesis. The catechesis of sharing faith experience includes explaining Catholic tenets of belief; the celebration of faith through community worship, prayer and ritual; which are guided by growing familiarity with Christ's Gospel teachings.

Christ calls us to "listen with the ears of our heart"(1) . Thereby each catechumen and candidate is on their own spiritual journey home to Christ, supported through the evangelical mission of RCIA. Catechumens and candidates are aware that they are searching, often with needs difficult to verbalise. The gradual unfolding of the mysteries of Catholic faith and belief over the catechumen period, are patiently encouraged and shared. The Ministry of RCIA through the clergy, Parish catechists, sponsors and God-parents, and the prayers and welcome of the wider Parish community, provides the hospitality for new members to the Church to fully assimilate and actively engage in the Liturgical life of the Church. (2)

(1) Psalm 95

(2) Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults #42, 75-78, 105-108

Karen Hart

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