Becoming Catholic (RCIA)

What does it mean to be Catholic?

Catholic Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ. They enter the Church through Baptism, by which their sins are forgiven and they are made children of God. They grow in their Christian faith life– developing their relationship with Jesus Christ–through participation in the sacramental life, regular prayer, charitable works, and moral discipline. This is the work of the Holy Spirit who has been poured into their hearts at Baptism (Rom 5:5).

The Journey of Faith

Jesus Christ calls each of us to enter into a personal relationship with him. Our Lord Jesus Christ offers us his friendship, compassion, and forgiveness. In drawing closer to Christ many people experience a great sense of joy and inner peace as they discover God’s infinite love for them. The Holy Spirit brings us enlightenment as he strengthens and consoles us. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a process of preparing unbaptised adults for membership in the Catholic Church. The RCIA is a spiritual journey—gradually coming to know and love Jesus Christ and all that he has revealed to us about God and ourselves. Through the careful guidance of committed Catholics, one learns to live the life of a committed Christian disciple.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

This process of Christian initiation has several stages and ritual steps, leading up to the reception of all three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist, usually at the Easter Vigil, and finishing with Pentecost.

The RCIA is for adults who are not yet baptised. Occasionally baptised adults who are yet to receive Confirmation or the Holy Eucharist may receive some of the same catechetical, liturgical, and pastoral instruction found in the RCIA process. Since the process runs according to the development of one’s faith and personal conversion it can take a matter of months or years, depending on the individual person.

The best answer to this question is because Catholicism is the true and full path to enter into communion with the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we come to know and love God the Father in the Holy Spirit. Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ. By becoming a member of the Catholic Church we are united to Jesus Christ and to all other Christian believers, who are united to Christ through one faith and one baptism.

Becoming Catholic brings true freedomfreedom from sin, from fear, from all that holds us back from becoming our true selvesand brings the gift of eternal life in heaven with God, and all the angels and saints.

The Catholic life is a beautiful life. It is a life worth living!

 

Matthew Kelly, “Ten Great Reasons to be Catholic”

Personal Testimonies:

“Finding the RCIA was the breakthrough moment in my life: moving from asking questions to an understanding of what becoming, or more importantly, being Catholic meant. I meet people who patiently and gently helped me to understand the Catholic life, and who shared with me what being part of a Catholic community could bring to my life. Although the love of Christ has always been active in my life, the RCIA personally and spiritually brought Christ’s love to the foreground of my life, and gave me the foundation and community in which to let Christ’s love flourish and hopefully shine.” – Michael (RCIA participant)

“The RCIA process gave me a beautiful introduction to the Catholic faith. I found it to be an encouraging environment to freely ask questions, explore and develop an understanding of the rich traditions. It was an important first step of my journey that initiated a desire to grow in love of God and his Church. I was so happy when the time came to receive the sacraments, I felt as though I had come home.” – Amy (RCIA participant)

 

A testimony of a Former Non-Catholic Christian:

 

A testimony of a Former Agnostic:

 

A testimony of power of the Eucharist to bring people to the Catholic Church

 

Why be Catholic and not Just Christian?

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is the ordinary way in which the Catholic Church welcomes new adult members who have not yet been baptised.

Adults who have been baptised in a non-Catholic Christian community are welcome to join the Catholic Church. The process of full communion with the Catholic Church begins with a discussion with the local parish priest. During this enquiry period the person’s valid baptism is established, as well as the need for further catechetical instruction. Early in the discussions, any obstacles to the process of full communion, like divorce and remarriage, are discussed. Once obstacles have been removed, and after instruction is completed, the person can be fully initiated by the reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation, and Holy Communion.

Baptised adults seeking full communion with the Catholic Church do not go through RCIA in the strict sense, although some of the catechetical, pastoral, and liturgical instruction may be similar.

Unbaptised adults who are interested in becoming Catholic will typically journey through the following stages in the RCIA process of becoming Catholic:

Enquiry

The RCIA process begins with a period of Enquiry. This is a regular informal gathering to ask questions and engage in conversations about God, Christ, and his Church. When an individual is ready, they can meet one-on-one with the RCIA coordinator to discern moving onto the next stage. This stage is also known as the ‘Precatechumenate’ and is marked by the catechist giving the kerygma to the enquirer.

Catechumenate

After the ‘Enquiry’ stage, the person begins the ‘Catechumenate’, which is the instructional phase of the journey. The focus of this stage is the overall faith formation of the person, and includes reflection on the Scriptures, systematic instruction (catechesis) in the Catholic beliefs and worship practices, moral formation, and prayer.

Purification and Enlightenment

After the ‘Catechumenate’, the person begins a stage of ‘Purification and Enlightenment’ starting with the Rite of Election when the Bishop, on behalf of the Church, accepts the catechumen as a candidate for reception at the Easter Vigil. This is a spiritual time full of prayer and reflection, and includes several important Rites.

Reception and Mystagogy

Reception into the Church will usually take place at the Easter Vigil. This is the highest liturgy in the Church and one of the oldest. It culminates with the bestowal of the Sacraments of Initiation. After Easter, the newly baptised person – or “neophyte” – enters into a phase of catechetical formation called “mystagogy.” This is a period of deeper reflection on the reception of the Sacraments and how one now lives the Christian life. During the Easter season, neophytes rejoice in the risen Lord and begin to practice their Catholic faith in its fullness.

 

The Second Vatican Council restored the ancient Catechumenate, which was the process through which those embracing the Catholic faith and wishing to enter the Catholic Church underwent suitable instruction and were sanctified by sacred rites celebrated at successive intervals in preparation for baptism and full initiation into the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

1229 From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion.

1230 This initiation has varied greatly through the centuries according to circumstances. In the first centuries of the Church, Christian initiation saw considerable development. A long period of catechumenate included a series of preparatory rites, which were liturgical landmarks along the path of catechumenal preparation and culminated in the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation.

1231 Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its very nature infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The catechism has its proper place here.

1232 The second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church “the catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps” (Sacrosantum concilium, n. 64). The rites for these stages are to be found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (cf. RCIA [1972])

1233 Today in all the rites, Latin and Eastern, the Christian initiation of adults begins with their entry into the catechumenate and reaches its culmination in a single celebration of the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist (Cf. Ad Gentes, n. 14; Codex Iuris Canonici, cann. 851; 865; 866). 

 

Catechetical sessions during the Catechumenate

The Catechumenate is the longest and most densely catechetical period of the Christian initiation process. The principal guidelines for this period are found in RCIA, nn. 75 and 78The catechesis at this time is gradual and complete in its coverage. It is accommodated to the liturgical year and is solidly supported by celebrations of the Word.

This catechesis leads the catechumens not only to an appropriate acquaintance with dogmas and precepts, but also to a profound sense of the mystery of salvation in which they desire to participate. The instruction that participants receive during this period should (RCIA, 78):

•    Present Catholic teaching in its entirety;

•    Enlighten faith with understanding of the meaning of its various elements;

•    Direct the heart toward God;

•    Foster participation in the liturgy;

•    Inspire apostolic activity through works of charity and sharing one’s faith with others; and

At each catechetical session during the Catechumenate, the catechumens may be given anointings with the oil of catechumens, blessings, and/or minor exorcisms by a clergyman, or a catechist who has been authorised to do so by his or her Bishop. All catechesis should be done in the context of celebrations of the Word (see RCIA, 81-105).

James Tissot, Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea (1886-94)

 

The liturgy is “the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed [and] also the font from which all her power flows” (Sacrosantum concilium, 10). In and through the liturgy, the People of God participate in the work of God. The liturgy is the public worship of God by the People of God.

It is in the liturgy that we encounter the crucified and risen Christ. And it is through the liturgy that Christ takes us to God his Father in the Holy Spirit. The liturgy enables us to enter into the mystery of Christ.

Since the liturgy is the highpoint of the Christian life, the RCIA process is divided into various stages which are marked by major liturgical Rites, which can be considered ‘gateways’ because they enable the person to pass through one stage to another, hence changing their status and relationship to the Church.

The first major gateway is the Rite of Acceptance which enables the enquirer to become a catechumen. The second major gateway is the Rite of Election which changes the catechumen into one of the Elect. The third major gateway is the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and the Blessed Eucharist) which are typically celebrated together at the Easter Vigil.

As the person’s status changes as he or she moves through these gateways, the new stage offers them other minor liturgical rites. During the period of Enquiry (Precatechumenate), an officially authorised catechist can give the enquirer blessings and minor exorcisms that are adapted from those in the catechumenate.

During Catechumenate, the catechist begins catechetical sessions with a Celebration of the Word, which aim at implanting in the hearts of the catechumens the teaching they will receive. Celebrations of the Word also help catechumens gradually prepare to enter fully the worship of the parish community at Sunday Mass once they are baptised.  They are taught how to listen and to respond to the proclamation of God’s word. 

During the Catechumenate, clergy and officially authorised catechists can bestow on the catechumens blessings, anointings and minor exorcisms, all according to the Rites book. Lay catechists must receive permission from their bishop to perform these minor Rites: “The blessings may be given by a priest, a deacon, or a qualified catechist appointed by the bishop” (RCIA, 95). Catechists can introduce catechumens to the Church’s practice of praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

During the period of Purification and Enlightenment, the Elect go through a series of Scrutinies before the parish community at Mass. These scrutinies are meant to uncover what is weak, defective and in need of healing (RCIA, 128). The scrutinies are not aimed at shaming the person, but helping them to discern God’s work in their lives and to complete their preparation to receive the sacraments of initiation.

The Elect continue to participate in Celebrations of the Word before their regular sessions, as well as receive blessings, anointings, minor exorcisms (according to the Rites book), and pray the Liturgy of the Hours. As they approach Easter they are presented with the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, which are considered to express the heart of the Church’s faith and prayer (RCIA, 134). They also go through preparation rites on Holy Saturday.

After they have been fully initiated into the Church, the neophytes are encouraged to frequent the sacraments and pray the Liturgy of the Hours. They are also taught how to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. They are encouraged to make frequent use of sacramentals like holy water, relics, and blessed religious objects.

The Rite of Acceptance is the first ‘gateway’ in the process of becoming Catholic. It is the entry point to the ‘Catechumenate.’ The Rite of Acceptance follows a period of enquiry in which the person, the ‘enquirer’, experiences initial conversion and begins to enter into a relationship with God in Christ.

In the Rite of Acceptance enquirers make their public declaration of their intention to enter the Church. In this Rite, they ask God’s Church to give them the gift of faith which leads to eternal life.

“Reaching the point of initial conversion and wishing to become Catholic Christians, [enquirers] are accepted as catechumens by the Church” through the Rite of Acceptance (RCIA 6.1).

After passing through this first ‘gateway’ the person changes status from that of an ‘enquirer’ to that of a ‘catechumen’. This establishes a formal relationship between the catechumen and the Church.

The celebration of the Rite of Acceptance into the order of catechumens “should not be too early, but should be delayed until the candidates have had sufficient time to conceive an initial faith and to show the first signs of conversion” (RCIA 18.1).

The Rite of Acceptance is the first ‘gateway’ in the process of becoming Catholic. It is the entry point to the ‘Catechumenate.’ The Rite of Acceptance follows a period of enquiry in which the person, the ‘enquirer’, experiences initial conversion and begins to enter into a relationship with God in Christ.

In the Rite of Acceptance enquirers make their public declaration of their intention to enter the Church. In this Rite, they ask God’s Church to give them the gift of faith which leads to eternal life.

“Reaching the point of initial conversion and wishing to become Catholic Christians, [enquirers] are accepted as catechumens by the Church” through the Rite of Acceptance (RCIA 6.1).

After passing through this first ‘gateway’ the person changes status from that of an ‘enquirer’ to that of a ‘catechumen’. This establishes a formal relationship between the catechumen and the Church.

The celebration of the Rite of Acceptance into the order of catechumens “should not be too early, but should be delayed until the candidates have had sufficient time to conceive an initial faith and to show the first signs of conversion” (RCIA 18.1)

James Tissot, Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness (1886-94).

“[T]he definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.” (Catechesi tradendae, 5)

“[T]he specific aim of catechesis is to develop, with God’s help, an as yet initial faith, and to advance in fullness and to nourish day by day the Christian life of the faithful, young and old. … Catechesis aims therefore at developing understanding of the mystery of Christ in the light of God’s word, so that the whole of a person’s humanity is impregnated by that word” (Catechesi tradendae, 20).

The character of catechesis during the RCIA changes as a person progresses through the various stages:

Enquiry Stage (Precatechumenate)

Catechesis during the Enquiry stage is marked by the giving of the kerygma. This includes an apologetic approach in order to remove obstacles to reception of the Christian faith. The catechist also answers burning question in a simple manner, and teaches the enquirer some basic prayers, songs, the liturgical seasons and feasts, and how to navigate the bible.

 Catechumenate

The Catechumenate period is marked by systematic catechesis to immerse the catechumens into the whole mystery of Jesus Christ. This effectively provides an ‘apprenticeship’ in the Christian life so that at the end of the catechumenate the catechumens can, freely and in full knowledge, request the sacraments of initiation. Systematic catechesis brings catechumens to the stage where they are able to make the firm decision to become a Catholic through the sacraments and to live the Christian life through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Although systematic catechesis during the Catechumenate must include the scriptural foundation for all the Church’s teachings, it is not lectionary based. A lectionary based catechesis is not systematic, nor does it cover all the aspects of the Catholic faith. Systematic catechesis requires constant reference to Scripture, the Liturgy, and the Catechism. These catechetical instruction sessions should ideally be held at least weekly, if possible.

In addition to these regular catechetical instructions, catechumens should also have the Sunday lectionary readings ‘broken open’ for them after the dismissal at Sunday Mass, or another suitable time.in order to remove obstacles to reception of the Christian faith. The catechist also answers burning question in a simple manner, and teaches the enquirer some basic prayers, songs, the liturgical seasons and feasts, and how to navigate the bible.

Purification and Enlightenment Stage

No systematic catechesis occurs during the period of Purification and Enlightenment as it was completed during the catechumenate. The period of Purification and Enlightenment is a time for spiritual growth and purification. This period is marked by a spiritual, reflective, and meditative preparation for the reception of the sacraments of initiation.

Post-Baptismal Stage (Mystagogy)

After reception of the sacraments of initiation, the newly baptised members of the Church enter into a period of Mystagogical catechesis. This period is marked by an immersion into the meaning of the sacraments, through sacramental participation and regular reflection upon the relation of Scripture to the liturgical celebrations.

Fra Angelico, The Sermon on the Mount (1437-45)

The Church has responsibility to care for the souls of enquirers and catechumens before baptism, and for the newly baptised after Easter. This responsibility is enacted by the clergy and the RCIA team.

The pastoral dimensions of the RCIA involve all the people who participate in Christ’s work of conversion and discipleship. This means the clergy, catechists, and other members of the parish are involved.

Clergy and the RCIA team are responsible for carefully discerning the readiness of the enquirers and catechumens to pass through the major liturgical Rites.

The parish hospitality team welcomes enquirers to the parish and directs them to the RCIA team. The hospitality team continues to build relationships with catechumens to ensure they are well-connected and begin to form life-long bonds of friendship with other parishioners.

Parishes usually have a group of parishioners who are dedicated prayer intercessors – praying daily for the enquirers and catechumens.

Sponsors and godparents are selected for their ability to provide fellowship, mentoring and spiritual guidance to the enquirers and catechumens. Sponsors and godparents journey with these people through the RCIA process and stand as witnesses to their moral character, faith, and intention to become Catholic Christians. The responsibility of sponsors and godparents continues beyond the reception of the sacraments of initiation to help the neophytes remain true to their baptismal promises.

Pastoral care involves investigating any previous baptisms in other Christian communities, as well as previous marriages. The latter would involve referral to the diocesan Marriage Tribunal before proceeding through the Rite of Acceptance. A catechumen will not pass through the Rite of Election if they are still awaiting a decision from the Marriage Tribunal. Pastoral care also involves helping enquirers and catechumens understand and live the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and family life, including matters pertaining to divorce and remarriage, and cohabitation.

 

Angelika Kauffmann, Christ and the Samaritan woman at the Well (1796)

The RCIA team represents a microcosm of the parish insofar as it represents the initial introduction of enquirers to the parish community. The RCIA team plays an essential role in the ministry of leading people from enquiring about Christ, the gospel and the Church, to the catechumenate, and onto full reception into the Catholic Church. Practically speaking, the parish priest needs the help of an RCIA team, made up of a spectrum of parishioners, to provide sufficient witness and love to the individual enquirers and catechumens, and to help in the discernment process of these individuals.

Each parish will have different requirements for an RCIA team, depending on the number of enquirers, the workload of the parish priest, the capacity of the parishioners to participate in the ministry, and the size of the parish. It can take years to form a fully mature RCIA team.

Ideally, when establishing an RCIA team, the parish priest will need to recruit, select, and form team members to assume ongoing responsibilities. Those who are regularly present at the RCIA sessions are members of the team and they should represent a cross-section of the parish. In larger parishes, therefore, the team would be represented by men and women, young and old, married and single, different cultural groups, recently-received Catholics and cradle Catholics. The number of team members should never substantially outnumber the enquirers or catechumens.

The roles of team members include: RCIA leader (parish priest, deacon, or lay person), catechist (clergyman or lay person), small group facilitators (lay person), musicians, and hospitality facilitators.

The RCIA team members will have the ability to give their personal testimony of faith to the enquirers and catechumens, as well as to witness to the power of Scripture, liturgy and prayer in their lives, and to their favourite Scripture passages. At all times, they should witness to the handling of Scripture with deep respect, showing the central place of Scripture in the life of the Christian and the Church as a whole, particularly in the liturgy. The RCIA team will attend the Major liturgical Rites, particularly the ceremonies for Holy Week, along with godparents, sponsors, in order to support the enquirers, catechumens and the elect.

RCIA Leader

The RCIA leader coordinates the Initiation process; recruits and forms the team, with the aim of drawing out the gifts of each team members; communicates with the wider parish community about the process and evangelisation; assists the parish priest in the discernment process of candidates; and helps recruit and arrange formation of sponsors and godparents to assume their roles.

Catechists

Catechists must have stability and be living the Christian faith in the parish community. They must have a mature faith and spirituality, and above all be able to give their personal testimony of faith. They must have professional competence in their ability to sustain a catechetical journey with the enquirers and catechumens (Adult Catechisis in theChirstian Community, n.72)

To this end, “an indispensable quality of catechists is the wise insight which allows them to go beyond the interpretation of texts to a deep grasp of vital issues and contemporary problems, and to be able to critically interpret present day events and the ‘signs of the times’. Other requirements are the ability to listen and dialogue, encourage and reassure, form relationships, work in teams, and build community. There must also be a sense of being sent by the Church and of being accepted by the community, whose journey they share in a fraternal spirit” (Adult Catechesis in the Christian Community, n. 73). Catechists undergo suitable formation in order to catechise about specific topics to adults.

Small Group Facilitators

Small group facilitators manage the discussion of the small groups within the catechetical sessions or the reflection on the Sunday lectionary readings each week. They have the skills to elicit questions and obstacles from enquirers and catechumens, and help the teaching of the Word to take root in their hearts.

Sponsors and Godparents

Sponsors and godparents will join the RCIA group as they are chosen, but because they usually have responsibility for just one person they are usually not considered part of the RCIA team.

Prayer Intercessors

A group of prayer intercessors should be recruited for the RCIA parish ministry. The RCIA leader communicates regularly with these intercessors to keep them up to date on specific prayer requests of the team and the candidates. It is recommended that local religious orders, particularly enclosed religious communities, play a vital role as prayer intercessors for RCIA.

“A sponsor accompanies any candidate seeking admission as a catechumen. Sponsors are persons who have known and assisted the candidates and stand as witnesses to the candidates’ moral character, faith, and intention. It may happen that it is not the sponsor for the rite of acceptance and the person of the catechumenate but another person who serves as godparent for the periods of purification and enlightenment and of mystagogy” (RCIA, 10) .

In other words, someone may act as a sponsor for an enquirer and catechumen, but another person may be chosen by the catechumen to be their godparent(s) for their baptism. Although this role of godparent begins publicly at the Rite of Election (usually the First Sunday of Lent), the person assuming the role must be able to testify publicly to the catechumen’s readiness—i.e. they are worthy and well-prepared to receive the sacraments of initiation (RCIA, 118). Hence, the godparent must have participated in at least part of the catechumen’s discernment process.

“Their godparents (for each a godmother or godfather, or both) accompany the candidates on the day of election, at the celebration of the sacraments of initiation, and during the period of mystagogy. Godparents are persons chosen by the candidates on the basis of example, good qualities, and friendship, elected by the local Christian community, and approved by the priest. It is the responsibility of godparents to show the candidates how to practice the Gospel in personal and social life, to sustain the candidates in moments of hesitancy and anxiety, to bear witness, and to guide the candidates’ process in the baptismal life. Chosen before the candidates’ election, godparents fulfil this office publicly from the day of the rite of election, when they give testimony to the community about the candidates. They continue to be important during the time after reception of the sacraments when the neophytes need to be assisted so that they remain true to their baptismal promises” (RCIA, 11).

“In the rite of election the godparents exercise their ministry publicly for the first time. They are called by name at the beginning of the rite to come forward with the catechumens; they give testimony on behalf of the catechumens before the community; they may also write their names along with the catechumens in the book of the elect” 

The Importance of Godparents

“It is a very ancient custom of the Church that adults are not admitted to baptism without godparents, members of the Christian community who will assist the candidates at least in the final preparation for baptism and after baptism will help them persevere in the faith and in their lives as Christians” (Christian Initiation, General Introduction, n. 8).

“At least in the later rites of the catechumenate and in the actual celebration of baptism, the part of the godparents is to testify to the faith of adult candidates…. Therefore godparents, chosen by the catechumens…, must, in the judgment of the parish priest, be qualified to carry out the proper liturgical functions…” (Christian Initiation, General Introduction, n. 9-10).

Through their example, both sponsors and godparents aid the clergy, catechist, and RCIA team to help the catechumens “to become familiar with the Christian way of life” (RCIA, 75). In this way, the catechumens “learn to turn more readily to God in prayer, to bear witness to the faith, in all things to keep their hopes set on Christ, to follow supernatural inspiration in their deeds, and to practice love of neighbour, even at the cost of self-renunciation” (RCIA, 75).

Requirements to be a Godparent

Godparents cannot be the parents of the catechumens. Each catechumen may chose either a godmother or a godfather or both a godmother and a godfather. Those chosen must have the capability and intention of carrying out the responsibility of a godparent and be mature enough to do so. Hence the person must be at least 16 years of age, unless the bishop has stipulated another age, or the parish priest has decided there is a legitimate reason for allowing an exception (cf. Christian Initiation, General Introduction, n. 10).

“Those designated as godparents must have received the three sacraments of initiation, baptism, confirmation, and eucharist, and be living a life consistent with faith and with the responsibility of a godparent. Those designated as godparents must also be members of the Catholic Church and be canonically free to carry out this office” (Christian Initiation, General Introduction, n. 10).

Below are a selection of traditional Catholic prayers and devotions.

Basic Catholic Prayers 

The Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

 

The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)

Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.  Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

 

The Divine Praises

Blessed be God.

Blessed be His Holy Name.

Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.

Blessed be the Name of Jesus.

Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.

Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.

Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.

Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.

Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.

Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.

Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.

Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.

 

 

The Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Sassoferrato, The Virgin in Prayer (1640-50)

 

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

 

St. Michael the Archangel,

defend us in battle.

Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,

and do thou,

O Prince of the heavenly hosts,

by the power of God,

thrust into hell Satan,

and all the evil spirits,

who prowl about the world

seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

 

Prayer to Your Guardian Angel

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day,

be at my side, to light and guard, rule and guide. Amen.

 

Prayers to Jesus Christ 

Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

V. Lord, have mercy on us.

R. Christ, have mercy on us.

 

V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.

R. Christ, graciously hear us.

 

V. God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mother’s womb, [etc.]

Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God.

Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty.

Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God.

Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High.

Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven.

Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity.

Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love.

Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love.

Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues.

Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise.

Heart of Jesus, King and centre of all hearts.

Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Heart of Jesus, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead.

Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased.

Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received.

Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills.

Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy.

Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon You.

Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness.

Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses.

Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches.

Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities.

Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death.

Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance.

Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation.

Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection.

Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation.

Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins.

Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in You.

Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in You.

Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints.

 

V. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

R. spare us, O Lord.

V. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

R. graciously hear us, O Lord.

V. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

R. have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart,

R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

 

Let us pray.

Almighty and eternal God, look upon the Heart of Thy most beloved Son and upon the praises and satisfaction which He offers Thee in the name of sinners; and to those who implore Thy mercy, in Thy great goodness, grant forgiveness in the name of the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee forever and ever. Amen.

 

Divine Mercy Chaplet

Prayers to the Holy Spirit 

Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

 

Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest (Veni Creator Spiritus)

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,

and in our souls take up Thy rest;

come with Thy grace and heavenly aid

to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

                                

O comforter, to Thee we cry,

O heavenly gift of God Most High,

O fount of life and fire of love,

and sweet anointing from above.

 

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;

Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;

Thou, promise of the Father, Thou

Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

 

Kindle our sense from above,

and make our hearts o’erflow with love;

with patience firm and virtue high

the weakness of our flesh supply.

 

Far from us drive the foe we dread,

and grant us Thy peace instead;

so shall we not, with Thee for guide,

turn from the path of life aside.

 

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow

the Father and the Son to know;

and Thee, through endless times confessed,

of both the eternal Spirit blest.

 

Now to the Father and the Son,

Who rose from death, be glory given,

with Thou, O Holy Comforter,

henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

 

Marian Prayers 

The Holy Rosary

The Angelus

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,

R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

 

Hail Mary, etc…

 

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.

R. Be it done unto me according to Your Word.

 

Hail Mary, etc…

 

V. And the Word was made flesh,

R. And dwelt among us.

 

Hail Mary, etc…

 

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech You, O Lord,

Your Grace into our hearts;

that as we have known the incarnation of Christ,

your Son by the message of an angel,

so by His passion and cross

we may be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.

Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

The Regina Coeli

(This hymn is traditionally said or sung after night prayer, immediately before going to sleep. It is said throughout Eastertide.)

Queen of heaven, rejoice. Alleluia.

For He whom thou didst deserve to bear, Alleluia.

Hath risen as He said, Alleluia.

Pray for us to God, Alleluia.

 

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia.

R. Because Our Lord is truly risen, Alleluia.

 

Let us pray.

 

O God, who by the resurrection of Thy Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, hast vouchsafed to make glad the whole world, great, we beseech Thee, that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

 

Prayers for Holy Communion 

St Thomas Aquinas’ Prayer in Preparation for Holy Communion

Almighty and ever-living God, I approach the sacrament of Your only-begotten Son Our Lord Jesus Christ, I come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind to the radiance of eternal light, and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.

 

Lord, in your great generosity, heal my sickness, wash away my defilement, enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.

 

May I receive the bread of angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with humble reverence, with the purity and faith, the repentance and love, and the determined purpose that will help to bring me to salvation.

 

May I receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood, and its reality and power.

 

Kind God, may I receive the Body of Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born from the womb of the Virgin Mary, and so be received into His mystical body and numbered among His members.

 

Loving Father, as on my earthly pilgrimage I now receive Your beloved Son under the veil of a sacrament, may I one day see him face to face in glory, who lives and reigns with You for ever. Amen.

 

St Thomas Aquinas’ Prayer in Thanksgiving After Holy Communion

Lord, Father all-powerful and ever-living God, I thank You, for even though I am a sinner, your unprofitable servant, not because of my worth but in the kindness of your mercy, You have fed me with the Precious Body and Blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray that this Holy Communion may not bring me condemnation and punishment but forgiveness and salvation.

May it be a helmet of faith and a shield of good will.

May it purify me from evil ways and put an end to my evil passions.

May it bring me charity and patience, humility and obedience, and growth in the power to do good.

May it be my strong defense against all my enemies, visible and invisible, and the perfect calming of all my evil impulses, bodily and spiritual.

May it unite me more closely to you, the One true God, and lead me safely through death to everlasting happiness with You.

And I pray that You will lead me, a sinner, to the banquet where you, with Your Son and holy Spirit, are true and perfect light, total fulfilment, everlasting joy, gladness without end, and perfect happiness to your saints.

Grant this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

 

Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.  I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.  Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

 

Act of Contrition 

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

 

 

Creed

From early times the Christian Church formulated her faith into organic summaries that were intended for use in baptismal ceremonies. These summaries are called ‘professions of faith’ since they summarise the faith that Christians profess. They are also called ‘creeds’ because the Latin text begins with the word ‘credo’, meaning ‘I believe’  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 186-7). Baptismal creeds profess belief in one God who is a Trinity of Persons. These creeds are typically divided into three parts: the first is about God the Father who created the heavens and the earth; the second is about God the Son and the mystery of redemption; and the third is about God the Holy Spirit who is the origin and source of our sanctification.

When a candidate is brought into the Christian faith, he or she professes belief in the One and Triune God before being baptised “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The two main Creeds are the Apostles’ Creed and the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (or Nicene Creed). The Apostles Creed is so-called because it is considered the faithful summary of the apostles’ faith. The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed is a summary of the faith professed by the bishops who gathered at the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381). Both of these Creeds are recited in the Church’s Eucharistic Liturgy today.

 

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God,

the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

 

I believe in Jesus Christ,

his only Son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the

power of the Holy Spirit

and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge

the living and the dead.

 

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.

Amen.

 

Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (or Nicene Creed)

We believe in one God,

the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

and of all that is, seen and unseen.

 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

one in Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation,

he came down from heaven:

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he was born of the Virgin Mary,

and became man.

 

For our sake he was crucified

under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered died and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in fulfilment of the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory

to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the

Father and the Son.

With the Father and the Son

he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy

catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one

baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

 

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Consider attending one of the Verbum Domini Biblical & Catechetical Institute courses.

Please email us  about current courses or upcoming events.

Resources for Catechists

“Sycamore” is an informal course about the Christian faith and its relevance for life today. It gives you space to meet people and share ideas. It is used as an initial stage of evangelisation to reach out to inactive Catholics, those with no faith (“the nones”), and those who are searching for more. Each session involves a short film and time for discussion. https://www.sycamore.fm/

“ChristLife”: The ChristLife evangelisation process is a proven method of igniting the new evangelization by providing a relational context to begin to make missionary disciples at the parish level. ChristLife helps parishes make missionary disciples by helping people discover Jesus Christ personally, follow Him in their daily lives as Catholic disciples, and share Him with others. There are three series: “Discovering Christ” invites every person, baptized or unbaptized, to encounter the love of God the Father, enter into or renew a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live as God’s children. “Following Christ” inspires people who have encountered Christ to grow in their relationship with Him and to learn the disciplines and truths of the Christian life. Finally, “Sharing Christ” equips Catholics with practical skills to proclaim the Gospel through friendship evangelization, draw others into a personal relationship with Jesus, and invite them to become His disciples as members of the Church. https://christlife.org/christlife-series

“Formed: The Catholic Faith. On Demand.” An online Digital Platform on the Catholic Faith. FORMED is your single source for Bible studies, sacramental prep materials, documentaries, movies, books, and more. Leading Catholic experts help parishioners grow in their faith and lead them closer to Christ through the Sacraments and the Gospel. Available for individual or parish subscriptions. https://formed.org/

 

 

“Gratia Series” Sacramental Program books. Available through the Confraternity for Christian Doctrine, Archdiocese of Sydney. https://ccd.sydneycatholic.org/book-orders/sacramental-programs/

 

“The Signs of Grace”: Authentic Catechesis for Children and their Parents. Reconciliation and First Holy Communion Preparation by the Augustine Institute  http://thesignsofgrace.org/ Available through Parousia Media, Sydney .

 

“The Signs of Grace: You are Forgiven”, Reconciliation Preparation http://thesignsofgrace.org/you-are-forgiven/ Signs of Grace: You Are Forgiven prepares children to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time by revealing that God is indeed “rich in mercy.” Parent sessions using Award-winning Augustine Institute Studio’s Forgiven: The Transforming Power of Confession help meet the crucial need for ongoing formation and catechesis for the entire family.

 

“The Signs of Grace: You are Loved,” First Holy Communion Preparation http://thesignsofgrace.org/your-are-loved/ Signs of Grace: You Are Loved prepares children to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time by revealing the intimate love that God has for us. Parent sessions using Award-winning Augustine Institute Studio’s Presence: The Mystery of the Eucharist help meet the crucial need for ongoing formation and catechesis for the entire family.

 

“Blessed”: Reconciliation and First Holy Communion Preparation by Dynamic Catholic https://dynamiccatholic.com/blessed

“Chosen: Your Journey Toward Confirmation” by Ascension Press. Available through Parousia Media. 

 

“Decision Point”: Confirmation Preparation for children 12+ years old by Dynamic Catholic https://dynamiccatholic.com/confirmation

 

Children’s Catechesis: Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

The Association of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Australia https://cgsaust.org.au/

United States Association of The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd  https://www.cgsusa.org/

Podcasts from USA Catechesis of the Good Shepherd https://cgsusa.podbean.com/

Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults  http://www.stpauls.com.au/product/2590

Association for Catechumenal Ministry https://acmrcia.org/