Why become Catholic? Here are some good reasons:
1. We have an optimistic view of creation. What God created was called good in the Book of Genesis and so we Catholics basically look at the world as God's good creation. This is also why we are a sacramental people. Sacraments are symbols of God's actual presence and goodness so much so that we even call the human person as made in the image and likeness of God. This is why we are comfortable bringing sculpture, painting, stained-glass windows, music, drama and other elements into our worship.
2. We have a universal vision. The word Catholic means universal. And so our outlook is not simply local, but global. There are no borders in the Catholic faith. Our vision extends beyond nation and country to include all people. And so we reflect God's concern for all people.
3. We have a holistic outlook on life. We look at the whole person and say that everyone can be a saint. But this means that our way of life can be demanding. Holiness is not just about Jesus and me. It is about a true conversion of the whole person, which means a concern for bodily as well as spiritual growth and a balance between prayer and action.
4. We believe in personal growth. This means that conversion in the Catholic sense is not just a one-time thing, but it is an ever-growing, ever ongoing process. As opposed to self-fulfillment, the Catholic sense of achievement is self-transcendence, that is, going beyond the self to learn to give oneself away, especially to others in need.
5. We believe in social transformation. Jesus said that "he did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to change it." Our call therefore is to continue this mission of the transformation of the world. The so called "kingdom of God" is not some otherworldly place, but the way the world should be now.
6. We are a community of believers. To be Catholic is to live together in community and that together, we are all the Body of Christ. Where two are three are gathered in God's name God is there in our midst.
The next step in the process is participation in the Rite of Christian Intiation. This is a process by which the Church receives persons into its faith community through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and eucharist. The process is intended for adults (and children age 7 and above) who have not been baptized or who are baptized Christians in another faith tradition (e.g. Methodist, Baptist, etc.) or who have been baptized Catholic, but who have received no formation in the Catholic faith. But why do I have to particpate in this process? Why can't I just be baptized? Well, there are several reasons why we ask people to particpate in this process.
1. Becoming a member of the Catholic faith involves the whole community and we want people to experience what it means to become part of a faith community. The Rite of Christian Intiation takes place both in a small group setting and with the whole community. The community is there to support and pray for those who desire to become one with us.
2. In our Catholic faith tradition, the process of conversion (changing one's heart about God) is not a one time thing. It takes time for people to discover the God who loves them and wants them to be connected to God (e.g. in a relationship with God). This is why we need others to help us; we need them to share their life experiences so that people can know about God and the way that God comes into a person's life.
3. Participation in the process called the Rite of Christian Intiation is not a program. It is part of an on-going way that people discover the God who made us and wants us to know God. The process of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Intiation) takes place over some time and leads to initiation into the Catholic faith. But as a process it is on-going for the life of a person as it should be for all persons of faith.
4. The process of the RCIA does include a number of steps that are all designed to help people along their journey of faith. A person may have questions about the Catholic Church and so people are given some time to ask us these questions. We call this a period of Inquiry. Then a person may decide that this is what they truly want to do. So the next step is to welcome them and accept them into a period called the Catechumenate (e.g a period of deeper formation in the Catholic faith). Following this is an even deeper preparation for initiation during the season of Lent. Finally come the Easter Vigil a person is then baptized, receives the sacrament of confirmation (confirmed and affirmed in faith) and is able to receive the basic food of our faith tradition, the Body and Blood of Christ that we call the Eucharist (this is the spiritual food that sustains our faith life).
So if you think this might be what you want, contact Deacon John to get the process started.