Becoming Catholic: The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
Every year, we have a number of students who wish to experience the joy of being Catholic. The RCIA is the program designed to receive such students. It is open to anyone in the college community who has not been baptized or who has been away from the Church for a period of time and would like to come back. Students who have been baptized but have not yet received their first communion are eligible to join.
Joining this program does not automatically commit you to becoming Catholic. It begins as an inquiry into the faith. Some students do not intend to convert but simply want to learn more about the faith, which is systematically explained throughout the school year. Beginning in September, students spend two semesters of significant preparation to receive the necessary sacraments and make a profession of faith on the night before Easter. This includes a weekly meeting as well as other time commitments.
Listed below are brief descriptions of each of the Seven Sacraments of the Church:
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission. When an army wins a piece of land, soldiers raise a flag to declare that land as part of their country. Baptism is similar. It declares the person to be part of Christ.
Anyone at Holy Cross interested in being baptized and received into the Catholic faith is welcome to join our program.
The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the heart of the Catholic faith. (CCC #1324) Holy Mass makes present, here and now, the perpetual sacrifice offered by Christ on the cross for the redemption of all people. The Eucharist is the sign of the New Covenant established with God the Father by Christ on behalf of Christ’s Church.
The word Catholic means universal. No longer restricted to a particular household (Noah), tribe (Abram), nation (Moses), or national kingdom (David), this New Covenant is the source of eternal salvation and the Good News is that it’s available to everyone. (This is where the Catholic Church gets her name: the catholic invitation to be part of the New Covenant.) Just as the Jewish Passover is the renewal of the covenant made on Mount Sinai, the Mass is the renewal of the New Covenant forged on Calvary. (Certainly explains why Christ held the Last Supper on the feast of the Passover!) Thus, ever since, Catholics have renewed this covenant through the basic liturgical action of the Mass. By offering the Eucharist in an act of obedient faith, Catholics deliberately accept the salvation offered to all people by Christ.
This is the sacrament of conversion and healing. It is God’s special way of forgiving sins. Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. Whose sins you retain, they are retained, Jesus told the apostles (Jn. 20:23). Through apostolic succession, this responsibility has been passed down to the ordained bishops and priests serving today.
This sacrament is regularly available at Holy Cross. Please check with the Campus Ministry Office for specifics days and times.
Confirmation is the definitive calling down of the Holy Spirit onto a baptized person which completes the baptismal gift of grace. It enriches the recipient with a special strength of the Holy Spirit, unites the person more firmly to Christ, and usually completes the person’s initiation into full membership in the Church.
At Holy Cross, any person who has not been Confirmed in the Catholic Church is welcome to join our program. Beginning in September, students spend two semesters of significant preparation to receive this sacrament. This includes a weekly meeting as well as other commitments.
This sacrament is the sacred covenant forged between a man and a woman which establishes a permanent partnership of their whole lives. Ordered toward their own well being and the procreation and education of children, it is a mutual surrendering of oneself to one’s spouse and to God. More than anything else, the spouse one chooses determines the direction and future of one’s life.
If you are engaged our thinking about getting married, please see the Director of Campus Ministry in order to learn more about the marriage preparation opportunities in the area and at local parishes.
The unique mission, responsibility and authority that Christ entrusted specifically to his apostles has been passed on throughout the ages by means of this sacrament. Through this sacrament, a man can be ordained a bishop, priest or deacon.
At Holy Cross, if you feel called to this sacrament, we can put you in touch with some great people to help you discern. See the Director of Campus Ministry for details.
Note: Though consecrated life as a Holy Cross brother or sister is not itself a sacrament, it IS a very cool lifestyle and an excellent way to live out one’s own vocation. Consider that as an option too.
Anointing of the Sick
The purpose of this sacrament is to heal and strengthen those who are physically sick. This healing may be spiritual or physical. (See Jas 5:14-15). It also gives spiritual strength to those who are suffering. If you become seriously sick or are facing a troubling medical operation, this sacrament is certainly available for you. You do NOT need to be at the point of death.
At Holy Cross, please contact the Director of Campus Ministry to arrange for a priest to administer this sacrament.