by Gilles Côté
The following text was written
a few years ago as part of a reflection paper. At the time this was
written, I had been involved in RCIA as a catechist for 8 years.
To inform someone, all that is needed is to
find a means of transferring a series of facts to that person. Such a
transfer of fact may produce no results whatsoever or may have a minimal
effect. Simply knowing the facts in no way ensures that the person will
act differently because he or she possesses these facts. The knowledge
of facts, even when they pertain to faith, do not guarantee that the person
who owns them will be transformed by them. To assume otherwise is to expect
of intellectual knowledge something that, by itself, it cannot give. It
cannot transform a person in all of the intricate dimensions of that person.
It is only a part of the whole person and as such cannot produce a change
in a person unless the other parts are also engaged in the process.
Formation, on the other hand does aim at the
transformation of the whole person and to that end does seek to reach
all of what makes up the person: the affective, the social, as well as
The RCIA process is meant to help people recognize
their experiences of God in all aspects of their lives. When the catechumens
share the stories of their lives it includes all of their struggles, their
hopes, their fears, their dreams and ideals. It is in all of this that
they are invited to recognize and to name their experiences of God. When
they reflect on scriptures, they are called to broaden this experience.
The people described in the Bible have also had similar experiences of
God. The catechumen can identify with these and therefore is open to incorporate
the interpretation of these experiences given by the christian community.
The RCIA also recognizes that in order to become a fully mature Christian,
the catechumen must become an active and conscious participant in liturgy
and have a vibrant life of prayer. Finally, the mature Christian should
also be one who lives out his commitment through actions which reflect
If the catechetical approach used during the
RCIA is to bring about all of these changes in the person it cannot be
simply information-based. It must be a formation process which seeks to
encompass all of the aspects of a person's life.
©Gilles Côté 2003 - Permission
is granted for non commercial use.
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