Three Approaches to the RCIA Process
It is into the great mystery of the Father’s saving love through Christ Jesus that all believers are called. And it is this great mystery that all the institutions of the Church, each and every one of them, exist to serve. The RCIA has no other purpose than the service of the holy mystery, the saving sacrament, of Christ present and active in His living Body. The renewal of the process of Christian initiation stands as one of the most important and successful features of modern liturgical renewal. Since its promulgation in 1972 and its further elaboration under the auspices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1988, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults has been among the most pastorally effective features of Catholic life in the United States. And yet all is not well. The very fact that the challenge is conversion, the conforming of imperfect men and women to Christ, means that the process will never be perfect. Initiation is, after all, the beginning of a process which has its ending in eternity. However, there are problems that are more concrete and, for that reason, can more readily be corrected. In general, three models of RCIA are operative today in most Catholic parishes using the Rite. Each of the models conceives of, and practices, Christian initiation differently. This workshop describes these models, discussing their strengths and weaknesses in terms of catechetical, liturgical, and pastoral dimensions. The result is clarity on how best the RCIA can serve the great work of immersing participants into Catholicism through a process of learning and interiorizing the sacred Scriptures, doctrines, sacraments, prayers, moral traditions, spiritual readings and rich communal culture of the Catholic Church, in order to serve the Father’s provident love in calling each soul to the living Body of Christ on earth.