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How Do You or I Become Catholic? Faith of the Catholic Church, Core Sacraments and Topics

Updated on October 29, 2011

A Beautiful Journey


How Does A Person Become Catholic?

There are 2 ways to become Catholic: you are either born into the faith, or you convert from another religion (or no religion) and receive the Sacraments of Initiation.

For those who are not born into the faith, there is a program called The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. The abbreviated form of this program is R.C.I.A.

The Sacraments of Initiation

When someone is interested in becoming a Catholic, the first thing that they should do is attend a few of the Catholic Masses. Catholic mass is held every day and most Catholics designate Sunday as their regular church day. Visiting a church on a Sunday would be a great opportunity for the inquiring person to see what the mass is like, what it's all about, and get a general idea of the parishioners that attend that church. Each church has its own personality.

After visiting the church the next step would be to introduce yourself to the priest and express your interest in learning more about becoming a Catholic. Most likely the priest will invite you to attend mass each week and when the time is appropriate. You will become a candidate and will go through a series of classes to learn about the Catholic faith. This program is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or R.C.I.A.

This program will teach the candidate about the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church. Emphasis on baptism, forgiveness of sins, and receiving the Holy Communion are at the core of the program. In fact, the program is designed so that upon completion you will be ready to receive the sacraments of initiation.

The Sacrament of Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation. Becoming baptized is a symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of His selfless act, we are able to have our sins forgiven. We become a new person through baptism; our old selves have gone to death and we become reborn as children of the Lord.

The Sacrament of Penance is after becoming Baptized and before making your First Communion. This is where you confess your sins in private to a priest and he offers prayers and blessings and asks God to forgive your sins so that you can be prepared to take part in the following Sacraments.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is connected with baptism. During the ceremony, the elect are sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as the priest applies holy oil to their forehead and gives a blessing. This oil is called The Oil of Holy Chrism.

The Sacrament of the Eucharist is the last Sacrament of Initiation that will be made. Being able to celebrate the Eucharist is considered to be fully participating in the Mass. Catholics believe that, through divine intervention and conversion, this is the true body and blood of Jesus Christ.

These 4 sacraments often take place during the Easter Vigil Mass. Please follow the link to learn more on this subject through an article I wrote about the conversion of my wife and children this past Easter.

Funny Nun Video

Other Catholic Sacraments

There are a total of seven sacraments in the Catholic Church. We have already discussed the first four, the sacraments of initiation. Now we will explore four other sacraments. Please note that not all Catholics make all seven sacraments.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is reserved for those who have a vocation, or calling, to serve Christ as a Priest, Deacon, Monk, or Nun. Deacons, Monks, and Nuns serve under the Priest and have limited authority in the church. While Priests run the church, so to speak, Deacons, Monks, and Nuns are important ministers of the faith. They perform charitable works and help the poor as well as a wide array of other duties.

The Sacrament of Matrimony is the celebration of Marriage. The church recognizes a faithful marriage through this sacrament. Candidates for marriage must have never been married in the church before, as the church recognizes marriage as a lifetime covenant between God and the unity of the spouses. The only exception to this is when an Annulment is granted, which is when the previous marriage can be proved to have been invalid for certain reasons. Annulments are rarely granted by the Catholic Church.

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is the final sacrament. When death due to illness is eminent, a priest may visit them and pray with them. Holy Oil is administered to them and Holy Communion is distributed, when practical.

These are the Holy Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. This article is very brief and touches on the basic principles of the sacraments. If you have more questions related to sacraments or if you have interest in becoming Catholic, I suggest you seek a priest at a church near you.

This article is the second in a series on Catholicism. Please follow this link to view the first installment: What Do Catholics Believe?


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