St. Augustine wrote about his journey of faith in a beautiful work called The Confessions. In that book, he looks over the whole of his life, and he discovers that God was guiding him every step of the way, even as He allowed Augustine to keep on searching. So Saint Augustine can be a very helpful saint for us in our current age, when so many people are searching for meaning and fulfillment in their lives. We live in a very secular culture that can lead us in many different directions. From our perspective of faith, however, we see God as the only one who can truly fulfill us. As Augustine said, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
With that searching in mind, each parish sponsors the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, popularly called the RCIA. The RCIA prepares people to enter the Catholic Church. In addition, we recognize that there are many who, like Saint Augustine, are still searching. The RCIA begins with an “Inquiry” stage, at which those who take part are able to ask any questions without fear of being judged and without making a commitment. As Augustine felt that God knew when he was ready to enter the Church, so we trust God to guide those who begin the Inquiry stage. Those who come to the RCIA and decide that the Catholic faith is for them can move on to preparation for becoming Catholic or for coming back to the Church. Others are welcome to say, at any time, “Thanks but no thanks.”
Saint Augustine recognized the importance of his mother’s prayers, along with the influence of her spiritual advisor, Saint Ambrose. Those who take part choose a sponsor to guide them. The sponsor’s role is the same as that of the sponsor (“godparent”) for Baptism or the sponsor for Confirmation. Of course, those sacraments are the way that those who have not yet received them are welcomed into the Church.
In addition, I have often found that those who have gone through the RCIA become its most enthusiastic supporters. Like St. Augustine, they come to a deeper appreciation of the faith because of the time they have spent searching.
So if you know someone who is interested in the Church or who simply has some questions for us, feel free to suggest that the person calls us to ask about the RCIA, or let us know and we can make the offer.