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190 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated

For adults who have not yet been baptized, the RCIA has three

major liturgical rites: Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens;

Election or Enrollment of Names, and Celebration of the

Sacraments of Initiation. The celebration of initiation is followed

by a postbaptismal catechesis, or


. (For those already

baptized, there are rites appropriate for their journey into full

communion in the Catholic Church. These are sometimes cel-

ebrated separately from the catechumens, and sometimes in a

combined rite with the catechumens.)

The process begins with the


, in which the

person shows initial faith in Jesus Christ and the Church. This is a

time for inquiry and the exploration of the beginnings of faith.

After the person has been given a fundamental understand-

ing of the Gospel and has decided to take the first step to

become a member of the Church, the person is brought into the

Catechumenate at the Rite of Acceptance.

The period of the


is a time for exploring the

teachings of the faith in a deeper and more systematic manner

within the context of worship and prayer. At Sunday Mass, the

catechumens with their catechists are often dismissed after the

homily for further, prayerful study of the Scripture readings for

the day.

This period concludes with the

Rite of Election or Enrollment of


, which takes place on the First Sunday of Lent. This rite is

celebrated by the bishop or his delegate, usually at the cathedral

of the diocese. The catechumens’ suitability and resolve to be initi-

ated into the sacramental life of the Church is supported by the

testimony of their sponsors and catechists. After this, the catechu-

mens become known as the Elect.