Today is Pentecost Sunday. Today we remember Jesus’ challenge to Go and Teach All Nations – to Evangelize. But how do we do that?
As with all aspects of your life experience, you can teach by your example. Others will see you living your faith—acting in a Christian manner to those you encounter. I’m not just talking about your friends and family, I’m also referring to the person who is rude to you, the person who is asking for assistance, the person who talks too much and drives you crazy. I know it has been overused, but let me refer back to “WWJD?”
You can evangelize by living your faith openly. Go to Mass on a regular basis. Spend time with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. Become a member of our Visitors for Christ or Legion of Mary and bring Catholic/parish materials to homes in a neighborhood. You can take a copy of the Southern Cross (our Diocesan newspaper) and share it with a friend.
You can be a catechist; a teacher or helper in the Faith Formation (CCD) program. Or, you could assist in the RCIA process.
Do you remember how you became a Catholic? Were you baptized as an infant or young child and only remember the experience from the pictures in the photo album? Many of our practicing Catholics have made the choice to become a Catholic as an adult. Maybe even the person sitting beside you in the pew is a convert…
But to become a Catholic as an adult, a person must enter through the RCIA, which stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It includes several stages marked by study, prayer and rites at Mass. Participants in the RCIA are known as catechumens. They undergo a process of conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
Prior to formally beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. This time period is known as the Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate. For some people, this process involves a long period of searching; for others, it is a shorter time.
After conversation with an advisor or spiritual guide, the person, known as an “inquirer,” may decide to continue the process and seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. The local parish assembly affirms his or her wish to become a baptized member of our church and the inquirer then becomes a “catechumen.”
The period of the catechumenate can last for as long as several years or for a much shorter time. It depends on how the person is growing in faith, what questions and obstacles they encounter along the way, and how God leads them on this faith journey. During this time the catechumens consider what God is saying to them in the Scriptures, what changes in their life they want to make to respond to God’s inspiration, and what membership in the Catholic Church involves. Catechumens have a special connection to the Church and even though they are not yet baptized, they also have certain rights in the Church.
Every step of the way, someone from our parish walks along with the person in the RCIA process. The team includes teachers and sponsors. There are also ancillary roles, such as those helping with hospitality on a recurring basis or for specific events.
Each year our parish welcomes 10-20 adults into the Catholic Church (either through Baptism or Profession of Faith). It takes many dedicated parishioners to facilitate and assist in this beautiful process. Anyone who has ever been an RCIA sponsor has felt doubly blessed by walking the path and being exposed to the truths of our faith in a fresh light.
I ask you to prayerfully consider some level of involved in the RCIA. You may wish to discuss the possibilities with Patty Mann. I’ll be praying for you.