There are two regional education ministries: CCD and RCIA.
An association established at Rome in 1562 for the purpose of giving religions instruction. Till about the thirteenth century, the Apostles' Creed and Paternoster formed the general basis of religious instruction; all the faithful had to know them by heart, and parish priests were commanded to explain them on Sundays and festivals. Then the range of instruction was widened to include the Commandments and sacraments, the virtues and vices. The Synod of Lambeth under Archbishop Peekham, in 1281, was content to order priests to explain the truths of faith four times year, but the Provincial Council of Lavour, in 1368, commanded parish priests to give instruction on all Sundays and feast days. Thiscouncil also published a catechism to serve as a textbook for the clergy in giving instructions in Christian doctrine, which was followed in all the dioceses of Languedoc and Gascony. Similar manuals were published elsewhere. The Council of Trent, seeing how multitudes had fallen from the Faith through ignorance of their religion and recognizing the truth proclaimed by Gerson more than a century before, that church reform must begin with the religious instruction of the young, issued the "Catechismus ad Parochos", anddecreed that throughout the Church instructions in Christian doctrine should be given on Sundays and festivals.
But the work of organizing religious instruction had already begun. In 1536 the Abbate Castellino da Castello had inaugurated a system of Sunday schools in Milan. About 1560 awealthy Milanese nobleman, Marco de Sadis-Cusani, having established himself in Rome, was joined by a number of zealous associates, priests and laymen, pledged to instruct both children and adults in Christian doctrine. Pope Pius IV in 1562 made the church of Sant' Apollinare their central institution; but they also gave instructions in schools, in the streets and lanes, and even in private houses. The association growing, it divided into two sections: the priests formed themselves into a religious congregation, "The Fathers of Christian Doctrine", while the laymen remained in the world as "The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine". Encouragement from the Holy See was quickly forthcoming. In 1571, Pope St. Pius V, in the Brief "Ex debito pastoralis officii", bore witness to the good already accomplished, and recommended bishops to establish it in every parish. Pope Paul V, by the Brief "Ex credito nobis", in 1607, erected it into an archconfraternity, with St. Peter's, Rome as its head centre. A rescript of the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences, in 1686, urged its establishment wherever possible. From Rome it spread rapidly over Italy, France, and Germany. It found advocates in Cardinal Bellarmine, St. Francis of Sales, and St. Charles Borromeo; who drew up a code of rules and established it in every parish of his diocese.
The First Provincial Council of Westminster urged that its members should be used in both Sunday and day-schools, but while Sunday-schools are plentiful, the confraternity is only sparsely established in England. Lastly, in 1905 Pope Pius X strictly ordained that "in each and every parish the society commonly called the Confraternity of Christian Doctrineshall be canonically erected". If the central confraternity in a diocese is affiliated to the Archconfraternity of Santa Maria del Pianto in Rome, all others participate in all theconfraternity indulgences.
Similar in scope and character to the above are the PIEUSES UNIONS DE LA DOCTRlNE CHRÉTIENNE, founded by the Dames de l'Adoration Perpetuelle at Brussels in 1851, for giving religious instruction to boys and girls. In Brussels they are found in about thirty parishes. In 1894 Leo XIII erected it into an archconfraternity for Belgium.
THE ARCHCONFRATERNITY OF VOLUNTARY CATECHISTS (Oeuvre des Catéchismes) was founded to help parish priests in giving religious instructions to children attending the primary schools in Paris and other parts of France, after these had been laicized. In 1893 Leo XIII gave it the rank of an archconfraternity with power to affiliate all similarconfraternities in France. The indulgences granted to all these confraternities are very numerous.
Thinking of joining the Roman Catholic Church? The Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of basic faith development. This article provides some detailed guidance for that process.
So, you're developing your faith. Great! Is it a little overwhelming?
This article is your best starting point to answer these questions, and more. I'll provide you with some fundamentals — centered in Christ — for beginning and developing your life of faith in the Roman Catholic Church.
Everything else builds on these fundamentals!
Where do you begin?
Well, you just begin from where you are now!
Many adults entering the Catholic Church, or those just thinking about it, follow a process known as the RCIA — the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
The RCIA process has several distinct stages. These Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of faith development itself, so this article will fit you whether or not you're actually in the RCIA process.
Below is a discussion of each of these Catholic RCIA stages.
But first, some basics...
Faith will be the foundation of your life.
Make that foundation solid!
Go slowly, make sure you've developed the basics well. That will help you avoid discouragement and frustration, two big enemies of faith development.
Also be aware of the importance of orthodoxy in the information you receive. ("Orthodoxy" here means "accurate and faithful" teaching.)
Make sure that you're satisfied with your own faith development in each of the Catholic RCIA stages before moving on to the next. Don't let pressure from anyone else make you move on. Also watch out for calendar-based pressure — don't say things like, "If I don't start catechesis now, I won't be done this Easter!" That's the wrong basis for making a decision about your faith and your life!
I know, sometimes it seems like it takes a long time to work through all of the Catholic RCIA stages. But...
Don't rush it!
In the inquiry stage, you're just finding out about Jesus, Christianity, and the Catholic Church.
Your main task here is to explore and develop your faith enough so you can make an informed initial decision about entering the Catholic Church. The final decision won't come for a long time, when you actually enter the Church at Easter and receive the sacraments of initiation.
The RCIA inquiry stage page has lots of detailed guidance for you during this stage.
Even if you're past the inquirer stage, you should still read that section to make sure you've covered the right ground. You'll need to rely on that foundation later!
RCIA stage 2: Learning about the Faith
In the catechumenate, your faith has begun to develop. Now you need to learn and grow more.
You focus on catechesis in this stage: learning about the faith, how to live as a Christian, and developing your interior life.
Your job now is to come into closer contact with the Living God and learn more about the Catholic Faith.
RCIA stage 3: Getting ready for rebirth!
This period of purification and enlightenment is the final stage before receiving the Easter sacraments of initiation into the Church: baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist. (Those already baptized with a valid baptism in another Christian church aren't baptized again.)
This stage of intense reflection calls you to deeper conversion in preparation for your renewal at Easter. This is what the season of Lent is for, but it has a special intensity for you this year as you're entering the Church and receiving the sacraments of initiation.
The Church uses three profound and beautiful passages from the Gospel of John to focus this preparation effort.
RCIA stage 4: Reflecting on the mysteries of the Mass
This stage of mystagogy during Easter is for continued reflection on the sacraments you have received at Easter, especially the Eucharist.
Specific catechesis on the Mass, the Sacraments, and especially the Eucharist are the focus of this stage.
The Mass and the Eucharist are the "source and summit" of the Christian life in the Catholic Church, and this period is designed to help you understand, appreciate, and live more deeply this center of Catholicism.
That's a good overview of the Catholic RCIA stages, with more than enough supplemental information to think about for a while!
Remember that the Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of basic faith development, so you can learn a lot from them even if you're not in the RCIA process.