The Rite of Christian
Initiation is not a programme. It is the Church's way of ministering sensitively
to those who seek membership. For that reason some people will need more time
than others to prepare for the lifetime commitment that comes with membership
in the Catholic Church. In most cases candidates will spend close on 6 months
(typically, from an 'Enquiry Evening' in September to full reception into the Church
at Easter). Some may choose to take longer, perhaps postponing
membership into the Church until the following year.
However long the period of preparation takes, the normal time for the Sacraments of Initiation or the Rite of Reception into full Communion is the Easter Vigil. Lent prepares catechumens, candidates and the whole community for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist The celebration of the Easter Vigil dramatically points to the wellspring of the Church's life: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The waters of Baptism put to death the old person of sin and give birth to the new person in Christ Anointing with Sacred Chrism seals the newly baptised with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Participation at the table of the Lord with the disciples represents full membership in the Church.
The period of 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost completes initiation. This festive season of post-baptismal catechesis helps new members and the whole church penetrate the deeper meaning of the Easter sacraments. It is a time for the newly baptised persons to find their home in the community and consider how they will share in the mission of the Church through Christian service. This period in the initiation process is a reminder to everyone that the process of spiritual growth is not completed with the celebration of the sacraments of initiation. It is a lifelong task.