RCIA & Adult Faith Formation: Reading the Signs

Authored by Fr. Drake McCalister in Issue #5.1 of The Catechetical Review

If you have ever traveled internationally, you have undoubtedly experienced the challenge of interpreting unfamiliar signs. Deciphering these enigmatic symbols can be a funny exercise, as long as you are not desperately lost. The first time I traveled to Australia, my wife and I were regularly in stiches at the utterly unique signs. My favorite had to be the camel, wombat, and kangaroo caution sign. Seeing this sign was a clear indication that we were far from home and in very unfamiliar territory[CR1] .

The purpose of a sign is to teach the viewer something: warning, action, direction, etc. The Catholic Christian faith is filled with signs that are designed to teach, but just like unfamiliar signs in a foreign country, if someone does not clearly explain the meaning of the sign, we will remain in ignorance or left to make our best guess. Frequently, cradle Catholics do not understand the meaning of the signs that surround them and this leads to a deficient Christian life, lacking the full available richness .

When it comes to RCIA, explaining the meaning of the signs and symbols is all the more crucial. Being one who came to the Catholic Church later in life, I cannot state strongly enough how confusing are many of the actions within the liturgy to an uninitiated observer. I’ll never forget being handed the baptismal candle, when my children were baptized, and seeing the chi rho (☧) on the side of the candle. Not knowing what it was, I asked the three religious sisters present at the baptism what it meant and they didn’t know either. I now know and can give a wonderful explanation, but that is for another time.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

A Catechesis for the Present and for the Future
By Gloria Zapiain
This article explores chapters 9-10 of the Directory for Catechesis. Chapters nine and ten usher in Part III , the last of the main sections of the Directory for Catechesis , entitled “Catechesis in the Particular Churches .” This refers to the implementation of catechesis in (arch)dioceses and other ecclesial institutions, how catechesis is... Read more
Creating a More Welcoming School: Addressing Culture and the Catholic Worldview
By Clare Kilbane
https://pixabay.com/photos/teacher-learning-school-teaching-4784916/ The religious identity of students enrolled in Catholic schools is increasingly diverse. In most classrooms today, it is common to find students who identify themselves as Catholic, those who practice other religions, and some who are not religious. It goes without saying that a... Read more
Inculturation and Organizational Structures in the Directory for Catechesis
By Monsignor John Pollard
This article explores chapters 10-11 of the Directory for Catechesis . Catechesis at the Service of the Inculturation of the Faith At the press conference to present the new Directory for Catechesis (2020), Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, stated, “The need for a new... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now