Thursday, June 03, 2004

I did a simple search for "Methodist Blog" and came up with two hits, neither of which appeared to be flowering sites. The same search for "Catholic Blog" revealed hundreds, if not thousands, of sites.

I only mention this because I have been so surprised and pleased by the helpfulness and diversity of Catholic bloggers and blog readers. The other day, one of these helpful Internet acquaintences (a Methodist, in this case) pointed me to the "Becoming Catholic" menu item at the Catholic.com website. In particular, Catholic.com says,

For those who have been instructed in the Christian faith and have lived as Christians, the situation is different. The U.S. Conference of Bishops states, "Those baptized persons who have lived as Christians and need only instruction in the Catholic tradition and a degree of probation within the Catholic community should not be asked to undergo a full program parallel to the catechumenate" (NSC 31). For this reason, they should not share in the same, full RCIA programs that catechumens do.

The timing of their reception into the Church also is different. The U.S. Conference of Bishops states, "It is preferable that reception into full communion not take place at the Easter Vigil lest there be any confusion of such baptized Christians with the candidates for baptism, possible misunderstanding of or even reflection upon the sacrament of baptism celebrated in another church or ecclesial community . . . " (NSC 33).

Rather than being received on Easter Vigil, "the reception of candidates into the communion of the Catholic Church should ordinarily take place at the Sunday Eucharist of the parish community, in such a way that it is understood that they are indeed Christian believers who have already shared in the sacramental life of the Church and are now welcomed into the Catholic Eucharistic community . . ." (NSC 32).

Christians coming into the Catholic Church must discuss with their pastor and/or bishop the amount of instruction needed and the time of their reception.

So, even though I'm rather looking forward to RCIA studies, in particular because it will allow me to forge some new relationships in my new church, it is most likely not a requirement that I go through the entire program or be received at Easter Vigil. At my next opportunity, I'm going to seek a clarification on this because I don't want to give the impression to other active Christians that the Catholic Church would force them back to square one in order to join.

Right now, my next step is the Rite of Acceptance, which will take place near the end of June. The summer RCIA classes are held every other week while in the fall they will be every week. For now, since the Pre-Catechumenate meetings are over and the RCIA classes have not begun, I have a month of un-instructed time that I hope to fill with reading and practice.

Thanks to all who stop by and those who write. If blogs can be, in some ways, compared to vines, isn't it wonderful how many shoots there are off the one true vine.

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