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The Sacraments of Christian Initiation:

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1 The Sacraments of Christian Initiation:
Baptism The Sacraments of Christian Initiation are the three sacraments that initiate us into the Life of Christ and the life of the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. These three Sacraments begin our lives as followers of Christ.

2 **The Sacrament of Baptism, the first Sacrament of Christian Initiation, is the basis of the entire Christian life. **In Baptism we become members of Christ and of the Church, and we also become sharers in her mission to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. **The word Baptism comes from the Greek word baptizein, which means “to plunge.” In Baptism we are plunged into the waters of death in order to rise to new life in Christ. **Baptism is also called “the bath of enlightenment,” for through Baptism we are enlightened by the Word that is Christ and receive “the true light” (John 1:9) that enlightens every follower of Christ

3 The Waters of Life: Creation
The Sacrament of Baptism finds its roots in the Old Testament, the Old Covenant with God, the Old Covenant that Jesus came “not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). These roots begin in the Book of Genesis. At the beginning of creation, the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters, breathed on them, and brought life from them (see Genesis 1:1). In Baptism a human being becomes a new creation in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

4 The Great Flood But water can be deadly. It is a fact that, among all the natural disasters possible in this world, human life is most frequently lost not through earthquakes, fires, or tornadoes, but through flooding. We find in the Book of Genesis a picture of that kind of flood. Human life had been overtaken by sin. In the account of Noah’s ark, we are told that God was so disgusted with the human state of affairs that he wanted to start over. He wanted to save a remnant of his people and of his creation so that eventually all could be saved. At every Baptism a human being is “buried” in water as a symbol of death and at the same time is brought through those same waters into new life, life in Jesus Christ and in his Church

5 From Death to Life: The Exodus
The Israelites’ passage through the Red Sea also gives us insight about Baptism. The People of God, with their leader Moses, were led from slavery to freedom, from certain death to new life, by passing through the waters of the Red Sea. The waters of Baptism are the waters that part for us, so that we can be freed from sin and can continue our journey to the Promised Land of eternal life. The image of the Israelites’ safe passage through the waters of death is an image of the freedom that is ours through Baptism

6 The Waters of the Jordan
The River Jordan is a symbol of Baptism that leads us from the Old Testament to the New. In order to reach the Promised Land, God’s People had one more river to cross: the Jordan River. When they did, they knew they were “home free.” Centuries later, in the same River Jordan, John the Baptist offered a baptism of repentance to the people. He was offering them a chance to prepare themselves to recognize and follow the Messiah, the Anointed One, when he should appear. When the water is blessed for Baptism, these four great events of salvation history—creation, Noah’s ark, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the crossing of the River Jordan—are commemorated. These events are part of the Church’s memory and understanding of salvation. The Waters of the Jordan

7 Fulfilled in Jesus Christ
All these events of salvation history are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. When Jesus was baptized in the waters of the River Jordan, the heavens opened. The Holy Spirit, who had hovered over the waters of creation, descended upon Jesus as “the firstborn among many” (Romans 8:29) and the beloved Son of the Father (see Mark 1:11). When the Jewish leader Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, Jesus told him, “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5). After his Resurrection, Jesus entrusted this mission of baptizing all nations to his Apostles (see Matthew 28:12). In the Acts of the Apostles, we find that Peter is following Jesus’ instructions, for in Peter’s address to the crowd immediately after Pentecost, he tells them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit”

8 Christian Initiation in the Early Centuries
It is the third century in Rome. It is the night before Easter Sunday. It is early evening, just before dark. You are gathered with other men and women, some old, some young like yourself, near a gurgling stream that feeds into the Tiber River. You are a catechumen…continue reading on page 59. … For this is the night of celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the night of new life and new beginning. “Yes,” you say to yourself, “this is the night of my resurrection too, my resurrection in Christ and my new beginning in him. Alleluia!” Catechumen: An unbaptized person who is preparing for full initiation into the Catholic Church by engaging in formal study, reflection, and prayer.

9 The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults I
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: The process by which an unbaptized person, called a “catechumen,” and those who were baptized in another Christian denomination, called “candidates for full communion,” are prepared to become full members of the Church. Today, as always, Baptism is the first Sacrament of Christian Initiation. We use two different but closely related rites when celebrating this Sacrament. We celebrate the Rite of Baptism for Children when baptizing children who have not reached the age of reason (seven years). Those baptized as young children usually complete their initiation (with the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist) later in childhood or during their teen years. When baptizing older children (seven and older) and adults, we celebrate the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Those celebrating according to the RCIA are fully initiated during the same liturgy of their Baptism. Those adults who have already been baptized in another Christian faith community, as well as adult Catholics who have been baptized but never practiced their faith, participate in the RCIA but are not rebaptized. They are called candidates, and they prepare to receive the remaining two Sacraments of Christian Initiation, Confirmation and the Eucharist.

10 The Stages of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
An unbaptized person who is thinking of becoming a Catholic has a wonderful and life-changing journey ahead. But it is not a journey that he or she will take alone. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults involves a journey within community. Certainly there will be times of solitary decision and individual reflection, but the process is in itself an introduction to life within the Church. The process involves the local parish and also the local diocese. The process is structured to include seven stages four distinct periods of time and three steps, as follows…

11 Candidates for the Sacraments
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is first of all intended for catechumens, those who have not been baptized. Those who have already been baptized do not participate in the baptismal rites of the RCIA, as they are already members of the community of the faith. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults can be adapted to those who have already been baptized but have not practiced the Christian faith. For example, if a person was baptized in a Protestant church, she or he would not be baptized again but would be a candidate for the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. Someone who was baptized in the Catholic Church but never practiced the faith would not be baptized again but would also be a candidate for the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. A Catholic who was never confirmed may also, in some instances, join the catechumens and other candidates in formation sessions while preparing for Confirmation

12 This process consist of four periods and three steps:
1. Period of Inquiry (Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate): A person interested in being baptized in the Catholic Church begins by becoming an “inquirer.” During this time the inquirer listens to the Good News, learns about the Catholic faith, and discerns a call to live the Gospel life as a Catholic. This process of evangelization unfolds through meetings with priests, deacons, the religious education or catechumenate director, catechists, and often other inquirers and parishioners. The duration of this inquiry time is flexible. First Step: Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens a) In this rite the inquirers publicly declare their intention to follow Christ and are accepted as catechumens.   b) The faith required for Baptism is a “beginning” faith, a faith that will develop within the com munity of believers, the Church. Sponsors must be ready to help the new believers on the road of Christian life, and the entire Church community is responsible to some extent for the development of the gift of faith given at Baptism c) The Rite of Acceptance always includes the Liturgy of the Word and often takes place during the Eucharist. Here, for the first time, the catechumens have assembled together and, in most cases, will be dismissed together after the homily

13 Catechesis: the teachings and precepts of the Church are studied.
2. Period of Catechumenate: During this time the catechumens are gradually introduced to the Catholic faith. They are also guided in the Christian way of living in love for God and neighbor and in gratitude for Christ’s salvation. celebrate the Christian life. It is done in 4 ways: Catechesis: the teachings and precepts of the Church are studied. Spiritual Journey: with the faithful as their guides, they set out on a spiritual journey. They learn to pray, to witness to the Gospel through words and actions, and to live rooted in the hope that Christ makes possible Liturgy: they participate in the Liturgy of the Word at Mass and in the celebration of other rites, which strengthen their conversion with God’s blessings. Apostolic Witness: they work “actively with others to spread the Gospel and build up the Church by the witness of their lives and by professing their faith. Second Step: Rite of Election or Enrollment of Names This rite celebrated at the beginning of Lent and marks the beginning of the period of final, more intense preparation for the sacraments of initiation. It is the bishop of the diocese, or his delegate, who admits the candidates to the Rite of Election and to the Sacraments. The rite takes place at the cathedral; however, in dioceses that cover vast distances, regional groupings of parishes often celebrate the Rite of Election together at a centrally located parish church At this step the Church elects those to be baptized at Easter and helps them prepare for it.

14 Baptism As the elect come forward for Baptism, we pray for them in the Litany of the Saints. The water is then blessed. The blessing recalls the meaning of water as God’s creation and its use in the Sacraments. It also recalls the wonderful works of God throughout the history of our salvation (see RCIA, 210). Near the end of the blessing, the Paschal candle is lowered into the water (either once or three times) as a sign that it is Christ himself who gives life and power to the waters of Baptism. The essential elements of the Sacrament of Baptism: White Garment: This garment symbolizes that the newly baptized have clothed themselves in Christ. Lighted Candle : “keep the flame of faith alive in your hearts”

15 3. Period of Purification and Enlightenment: those who have been baptized prepare to renew their baptism and those preparing for the sacrament prepare more intensely for its reception. Time for repentance and renewal. This time is intended to purify and enlighten the minds and hearts of the elect. This involves examination of conscience and doing penance as well as deepening one’s knowledge of, and relationship with, Jesus Christ. Third Step: Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation. Holy Saturday is a special day of preparation, and they are urged to use it as a day of reflection in preparation for the Easter Vigil, when they will celebrate the Sacraments of Christian Initiation. This the celebration of the Sacrament of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. The elect enter into full membership in the Church. Those who have already been baptized in another Christian faith are not baptized a second time. The tall candle (the Paschal candle, the symbol of the Risen Christ in our midst) has reached the front of the church.

16 4. Period of Post-baptismal Catechesis (Mystagogy): This is a Greek word meaning “study of the mysteries.” Another term for this RCIA period is Period of Post-baptismal Catechesis—that is, catechesis after Baptism During this period, which coincides with the fifty days of the Easter season, the entire church community welcomes the “neophytes” (the newly initiated members of the Church) During this time the neophytes are helped to reflect on their recent Celebration of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation and on their being incorporated into Christ and into the Church. Through this reflection and new understanding, they are able to perceive the faith more fully, and their vision of the Church and the world is renewed and expanded.

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