Faith/Spirituality Forum: Confirmation of Baptized Adults
Confirmation of Baptized Adults QUESTION from Mrs. Thomas K. on September 1, 2002 My husband and I are both seeking to convert from the Lutheran denomination to the Roman Catholic Church.
This decision follows several years of investigation and study of Catholic doctrine and theology. We have decided after intensive investigation that we believe that the Catholic Church is the one true Church as established by Christ on earth through the first Pope, Peter. We wish to profess our faith and our belief in the Catholic Church and all of her techings.
My question is this. Both my husband are baptized Christians who have been living a Christian life (in the Lutheran tradition)for many years.
Our parish (which we have been attending for 9 months) is requiring that my husband and I go through the entire RCIA program before reception into the Church.
This action seems to be at odds with documents that I have read from the National Council of Catholic Bishops, wherein a difference between the Catechumenate and Candidates is clearly delineated. I have read that in parishes where a separate course of instruction is not available, private instruction of baptized Christians is preferred. I have also read the recommendation that such Candidates not be Confirmed at the Easter Vigil with the Catechumens who are being baptized at that time.
Do these recommendations carry any force of law?
Further complicating the issue is the fact that both my husband and I were previously married and divorced. We have alreay Petitioned the Marriage Tribunal for a Declaration of Nullity for each prior marriage and the Declarations of Nullity have been granted. However, this still leaves us in a position where our current marriage is not sacramentally valid. We have been told that we cannot have our union convalidated until we (or at least one of us) has been recieved into the Church.
Which appears to leave us in a position of committing (or appearing to commit by living together during this time) the sin of Fornication.
Should we approach our priest about the possibility of private instruction? Should we ask to be received into the Church early?
Is there a defined period of instruction? I understand that formal instruction is necessary, but is RCIA the only formation instruction available?
I realize I posed many questions. However, I feel that they are all realted to the same root question.
Is RCIA the appropriate courst of instruction for a baptized adult Christian who is alreay certain of their commitment to the Church, the magisterium and the precepts of the Church?
Thank you for your time,
Mrs. Thomas K.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on September 6, 2002 Dear Mrs. Thomas:
If you both have had all previous marriages declared a nullity, and you are legally married according to state law, but have not yet had the marriage blessed in the Church, you are not committing fornication.
You are in the process of converting and cannot be expected to have your marriage blessed in the Catholic Church as yet. Non-Catholic marriages are also presumed sacramental and if the decree of nullities have been issued, you are in the clear.
As for RCIA vrs. Private Instruction, I would recommend you go through RCIA unless the RCIA in your parish is teaching liberalism.
The purpose of RCIA is more than academic. It is about unculcating oneself into the Catholic worldview, and also a time of socialization.
For Catholics, the Church is not just a religious house one goes to, or a faith one believes. It is a true family. Thus joining the Catholic Church involves getting to know the family as well as learning the academic aspects of doctrine and such.
When I converted to the Church, I too did not need to take RCIA from an academic point-of-view. In fact, in many cases, I seemed to know more about the faith than some of the RCIA teachers.
Yet, I found the RCIA time rewarding. I would recommend it.
But, you may receive instruction privately in certain circumstances. You will have to talk to your pastor about that.
But, remember, to BE CATHOLIC, one must mortify pride and ego and be obedient. If your pastor does not not approve private instruction, consider this your first real test of being Catholic.
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