The RCIA, stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and is the formal process through which non-baptised men and women enter the Catholic Church. It includes several stages marked by study, prayer and rites at Mass. Participants in the RCIA are known as catechumens.
The Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of basic faith development.
Go slowly, make sure you’ve developed the basics well. That will help you avoid discouragement and frustration, two big enemies of faith development.
Make sure that you’re satisfied with your own faith development in each of the Catholic RCIA stages before moving on to the next. Don’t let pressure from anyone else make you move on.
In the inquiry stage, you’re just finding out about Jesus, Christianity, and the Catholic Church.
Your main task here is to explore and develop your faith enough so you can make an informed initial decision about entering the Catholic Church. The final decision won’t come for a long time, when you actually enter the Church at Easter and receive the sacraments of initiation.
The RCIA inquiry stage page has lots of detailed guidance for you during this stage.
In the catechumenate, your faith has begun to develop. Now you need to learn and grow more.
You focus on catechesis in this stage: learning about the faith, how to live as a Christian, and developing your interior life.
Your job now is to come into closer contact with the Living God and learn more about the Catholic Faith.
This period of purification and enlightenment is the final stage before receiving the Easter sacraments of initiation into the Church: baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist. (Those already baptised with a valid baptism in another Christian church aren’t baptised again.)
This stage of intense reflection calls you to deeper conversion in preparation for your renewal at Easter. This is what the season of Lent is for, but it has a special intensity for you this year as you’re entering the Church and receiving the sacraments of initiation.
The Church uses three profound and beautiful passages from the Gospel of John to focus this preparation effort.
This stage of mystagogy during Easter is for continued reflection on the sacraments you have received at Easter, especially the Eucharist.
Specific catechesis on the Mass, the Sacraments, and especially the Eucharist are the focus of this stage.
The Mass and the Eucharist are the “source and summit” of the Christian life in the Catholic Church, and this period is designed to help you understand, appreciate, and live more deeply this center of Catholicism.