Becoming a Catholic is simple in practice, although it is a significant and time-consuming decision. It is very easy to take the first steps to enter the oldest Christian institution in the world. Know that the church awaits you and will help you on your journey.
Part 1 of 4: Discover Yourself Spiritually
Step 1. Reflect for yourself
Converting to Catholicism will change your life forever. It's not like deciding to become a hipster or ticking the option to be an organ donor on your driver's license. This will be a decision that will become part of you, so don't make it lightly. Yes, at Christmas there are bright lights, but that shouldn't be the basis of your faith (although they are beautiful).
- Are you familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church so that you can say you want to be a part of it? If the answer is yes, great! Keep reading and getting informed. If you're not sure, find a friend or member of the clergy to find out more. And there is always the internet available!
- Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God and the true Messiah? Do you believe in the Holy Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit? And in the Virgin Mary and transubstantiation? Yes? Perfect! Let's go ahead.
Step 2. Read the Bible and the catechism.
The catechism (you probably know what the Bible is, don't you?) is a set of instructions for Christians in a book-based question-and-answer format that can be done alone and silently, or with an instructor at a place designated by your church. local.
It's true, the Bible is very archaic, it can be difficult to understand, and it's long, very long! If you don't have a lot of time, read Genesis and the Gospels. With them, you will already have a good idea of the story of creation and Jesus. Also, when you talk to a priest and express your interest, it will be clear that you have already done your "homework."
Step 3. Know your circumstances
If you have no previous history with the Catholic Church, you will go through the process mentioned in this article - known as RICA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and the celebrations that take place in the Easter Vigil (Baptism, Confirmation, etc). However, if you have already been baptized but have not had the other celebrations or have other prior ties to the church, then your process may be different.
If you have been baptized but your initiation process has stopped there, you may not need to take RICA classes. It will all depend on your education and your wishes. Most people already baptized have a shorter period of inquiry and reflection, and can join church on any Sunday
Part 2 of 4: Find the right church
Step 1. Visit local Catholic churches.
Look in the yellow pages of the phone book under "Churches, Temples and Religious Institutions" or in your neighborhood. These will be the big, beautiful buildings with crosses on top, just a tip. Another option is to search the internet for churches and church times.
Finding a church is good, but finding 4 is even better. Reflect on churches as you would colleges or schools. They all offer education, but one will be quite different from the other. One church may not seem right for you, while another will make you feel right at home. If you haven't found one that matches what you're looking for, keep looking
Step 2. Attend a Mass
You wouldn't buy a car without first taking it for a test drive, right? Going to Mass is not a privilege of the elite Catholic club, so join in! Anyone is welcome and no one will question you if you decide to go. Go with a Catholic friend who can explain how you should behave and what each step of the Mass means. While you can't participate in Communion yet, you can participate in everything else. And no one will notice (or care) that you didn't go to receive the Eucharist. The church welcomes everyone.
Don't let a specific mass or church influence your decision. Most churches have a fair amount of variation on the mass. Many offer masses for teenagers, with music or in different languages corresponding to the local minority community. Also, your appreciation of the sermon may depend on the priest who is celebrating that particular mass. So do research! There are several options out there
Step 3. Pray.
Just because you're not a veteran of the Catholic church doesn't mean you can't pray. And that definitely doesn't mean God can't hear you! Take a few moments in your day to pray and see how it feels, if it's relaxing or connecting you on some deeper level then that's a great sign.
You are not necessarily looking for answers when praying. Talk to someone upstairs (including the saints!) to show your gratitude, ask for help, or just relax and enjoy the moment. It is possible to do it anywhere, anytime, through words, thoughts, songs or actions
Part 3 of 4: Get started in church
Step 1. Contact the parish office of your preferred church
Inform them of your desire to convert and you will be on your way! There are adult classes, RICA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), for all those who wish to convert within a period, providing a social framework to assimilate the experience. However, before starting, you will have to go through a process called pre-catechumenate, which basically means talking to a priest, reflecting and going to Mass frequently. It's not as intimidating as it sounds, is it?
Sometimes churches function like schools, in which you can only attend those designated by your geographic area. If you find one that is far away and this is the norm in your diocese, ask your local parish to write a letter giving permission to attend the desired church
Step 2. Talk to a priest or deacon
He will ask you why you want to become a Catholic, will talk to you to make sure you are sincere in your desire and that you know the conditions of the religion. If both agree that you are ready to move forward, you will start RICA.
During Mass, you (and everyone on the same "term" as you) will announce your intentions through the Entrance Celebration and Rites for the time of the catechumenate. Don't worry, there's no need for public speaking. With this, you will no longer be in the pre-catechumenate, but will have taken the next step towards becoming a catechumen
Step 3. Start your education with RICA classes
You will learn the church's history, beliefs and values, and the proper order of celebration of mass. During this stage, you may only participate for part of the mass, leaving the place before Communion, as you may not receive the Eucharist until you have actually entered the church.
However, there are many other ways to get involved! You will receive the anointing, participate in prayers, and be involved in the community. Not to mention that the more classes, the closer you will be to the end, so do things at the right time and take the opportunity to enjoy the teachings to the full
Step 4. Complete this period with the help of a sponsor
Most RICA classes take place during a liturgical cycle. In this way you will participate in all celebrations, fasts and holidays. In the meantime, you'll gain a godfather or godmother - or you'll be able to choose one you already have in mind. This person will be available to help you, answering any questions you have.
You may also need to clarify your marital status. If you are divorced but have not received an annulment, then you will need to obtain one before becoming a Catholic. If you are married, but not in the eyes of the Catholic Church, then you may need to remarry (or have your marriage blessed), which can be done by appointment
Part 4 of 4: Enter the church
Step 1. Begin the period of cleansing and enlightenment
When the end of the liturgical cycle is near, you will be called an "elect". This is the stage at which you will prepare yourself for three public celebrations: Rite of Election, Rite of Immediate Preparation and Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation on the Easter Vigil.
The first two mentioned take place at the beginning of Lent. When the 40 days are over, on the Easter Vigil you will do Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist
Step 2. Become a Full Catholic
After the Easter Vigil (a memorable event), you will proudly be a valued member of the Catholic Church. All that work and study paid off, now you're ready to move on. Welcome!
In case you are curious, it is not necessary for you to do anything for the Sacraments. Attending with a smile on your face and with good intentions is all that is necessary. There is no need to memorize or do anything, nor is there a final test. The church is happy that you are just there. The priest will take care of everything
Step 3. Start the mystagogy period
Sounds like a magic name, doesn't it? Technically, this is a lifelong process for drawing closer to God and examining your Catholic beliefs in depth. But in practice, it ends approximately at Pentecost and is a beautiful name for exploring your experience in catechesis.
Some churches may continue to teach you (more as an orientation when needed) for up to a year, as you are still considered a novice. Ask any questions you need, they are available to help. After that, you'll be ready to fly from the nest to the skies
- Even if you are just asking questions but are not sure if you want to become a Catholic, you can approach a priest, deacon, or parish member to have your doubts resolved. They will likely be more than willing to make an appointment to talk with you.
- Typically, Catholic churches do various voluntary community services, such as feeding homeless people, spending time with the elderly or orphans. This typically represents the majority of church social events and is a great way to meet other Catholic members while doing valuable service to the community.
- If you do not understand or consider any part of the Mass or Catholic tradition unknown, ask a priest about it or in catechism.
- If you have previously been baptized in the Trinitarian form "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit", then your baptism is valid and there is no need to be baptized again. If you have not been baptized or have been baptized in a non-Trinitarian form, then you will need to be baptized into the Catholic Church.
- Many missals have the order of the mass with the answers and indicating the times to sit, stand and kneel.
- Pray every night and morning. In this way, you will pass on your appreciation and gratitude to God.
- The Catholic Church is usually identified by guilt and strict orders. After attending a few masses and meeting some Catholics, you will find that this is an unfair characterization.
- You can ask for indications of other Catholic books from the catechetical instructors, priest or your godfather or godmother.
- RICA classes do not mean that you will learn everything you need to know about the Catholic faith at once, they are meant to give you tips on the most important aspects and inspire you to learn more. This spiritual journey is eternal and constant. Just because you are finished with RICA doesn't mean that you are finished learning about your new faith.
- Until you become a member of the Catholic Church, you cannot receive the Eucharist. It is unlikely that you will be repressed for any action, but the church asks you to respect the traditions. Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Christ, not just bread and wine. Remember that Paul said: “Therefore, whoever eats this bread, or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man therefore examine himself, and so eat of this bread and drink of this cup. For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks to his own condemnation, not discerning the body of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). In short, you commit a mortal sin (which is very serious), and these should be avoided, especially in this case, as it is just a matter of waiting until you become a Catholic.
Instead of receiving the Eucharist, those who have not yet made their First Communion can wait in line and the moment they reach the altar, cross their arms in front of their chests, palms against their shoulders. This indicates to the priest that you wish to receive a blessing in place of the Eucharist. Important: those who are not priests do not have the power to confer blessings on Communion; in that case, if you cannot receive Holy Communion, you must remain seated. Nobody will suppress you and you will not cause a fuss
- Above all, don't be converted for someone else. Only do it if that is your real belief.
- There are many misconceptions about the church that can make you not really want to understand it. Find a Catholic friend who knows Catholicism well and he will probably be able to answer these questions better.
- The Catholic Church is a millenary institution; therefore, it carries a great deal of rites and traditions. If you're not absolutely sure you want to be a part of it, don't take the final steps until you really believe. There are many excellent books on the market about other people's spiritual journeys. Buying them and reading them can be very helpful on your journey.