I. Structure of the Initiation of Adults
1. The rite of Christian initiation described below is designed for adults
who, after hearing the mystery of Christ proclaimed, consciously and freely seek
the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion as the Holy Spirit
opens their hearts. By God's help they will be strengthened spiritually during
their preparation and at the proper time will receive the sacraments fruitfully.
2. This rite includes not only the celebration of the sacraments of baptism,
confirmation, and the eucharist, but also all the rites of the catechumenate. A
catechumenate, endorsed by the ancient practice of the Church and adapted to
contemporary missionary work throughout the world, was so widely requested that
the Second Vatican Council decreed its restoration, revision, and adaptation to
local traditions. 
3. So that it will be accommodated more closely to the work of the Church and
to the circumstances of individuals, parishes, and missions, the rite of
initiation first gives the complete or usual form, intended for the preparation
of a large number of people (see nos. 68-239). By making simple changes, pastors
may adapt this form for the preparation of one person. Then, for special cases,
there is the simple form, which may be carried out in one celebration (see nos.
240-273) or in several celebrations (see nos. 274-277), as well as a short form
for those in danger of death (see nos. 278-294).
I. STRUCTURE OF THE INITIATION OF ADULTS
4. The initiation of catechumens is a gradual process that takes place within
the community of the faithful. Together with the catechumens, the faithful
reflect upon the value of the paschal mystery, renew their own conversion, and
by their example lead the catechumens to obey the Holy Spirit more generously.
5. The rite of initiation is suited to the spiritual journey of adults, which
varies according to the many forms of God's grace, the free cooperation of the
individuals, the action of the Church, and the circumstances of time and place.
6. On this journey, besides periods for making inquiry and for maturing (see
no. 7) there are stages or "steps": the progress of the catechumen is,
as it were, a passage through a gateway or the climbing of another "step."
a. First stage [catechumenate]: at the point of initial conversion, they wish
to become Christians and are accepted as catechumens by the Church.
b. Second stage [final preparation]: when their faith has grown and the
catechumenate is almost completed, they are admitted to a more intense
preparation for the sacraments.
c. Third stage [sacraments of initiation]: after the spiritual preparation is
completed, they receive the sacraments of Christian initiation.
These three stages, "steps," or "gateways" are to be
considered as the major, more intense moments of initiation and are marked by
three liturgical rites: the first by the rite of entrance into the order of
catechumens, the second by the election or enrollment of names, and the third by
the celebration of Christian initiation.
7.The stages lead to the periods for making inquiry and maturing;
alternatively, the periods may also be considered to prepare for the stages.
a. The first period consists of inquiry on the part of the candidates and of
evangelization and the precatechumenate on the part of the Church. It ends with
entrance into the order of catechumens.
b. The second period, which begins with this entrance into the order of
catechumens and which may last for several years, includes catechesis and the
rites connected with catechesis. It comes to an end on the day of election.
c. The third period, shorter in length, ordinarily coincides with the Lenten
preparation for the Easter celebration and the sacraments. It is a time of
purification and enlightenment.
d. The final period goes through the whole Easter season and is devoted to
the postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy. It is a time for deepening the
Christian experience, for gaining spiritual fruit, and for entering more closely
into the life and unity of the community of the faithful.
Thus there are four continuous periods: the precatechumenate, marked by the
hearing of the first preaching of the Gospel; the catechumenate, set aside for a
complete catechesis; the period of purification and enlightenment (Lenten
preparation) for a more intense spiritual preparation; and the period of
postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy, marked by the new experience of
sacraments and community.
8. The whole initiation must bear a strong paschal character, since the
initiation of Christians is the first sacramental sharing in the death and
rising of Christ and since, in addition, the period of purification and
enlightenment ordinarily coincides with Lent 
and the postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy with the Easter season. In this
way Lent achieves its full force as a more intense preparation of the elect and
the Easter Vigil is considered the proper time for the sacraments of initiation.
 Because of pastoral needs, however, the
sacraments of initiation may be celebrated outside these seasons.
A. EVANGELIZATION AND PRECATECHUMENATE
9. Although the rite of initiation begins with admission to the
catechumenate, the preceding period or precatechumenate is of great importance
and as a rule should not be omitted. It is a time of evangelization: faithfully
and constantly the living God is proclaimed and Jesus Christ whom he has sent
for the salvation of all. Thus those who are not yet Christians, their hearts
opened by the Holy Spirit, may believe and be freely converted to the Lord and
commit themselves sincerely to him. For he is the way, the truth, and the life
who fulfills all their spiritual expectations, indeed infinitely surpasses them.
10. From evangelization, completed with the help of God, come faith and
initial conversion; these cause a person to feel called away from sin and drawn
into the mystery of God's love. The whole period of the precatechumenate is set
aside for this evangelization, so that the genuine will to follow Christ and
seek baptism may mature.
11. During this period, catechists, deacons, and priests, as well as
laypersons, are to give a suitable explanation of the Gospel to the candidates.
They are to receive help and attention so that with a purified and clearer
intention they may cooperate with God's grace. Meetings of the candidates with
families and groups of Christians may then more easily be arranged.
12. In addition to the evangelization that is proper to this period, the
conferences of bishops may provide, if necessary and according to local
circumstances, a preliminary manner of receiving interested inquirers
("sympathizers"): those who, even though they do not fully believe,
show some inclination toward the Christian faith.
- Such a reception, if it takes place, will be carried out without any
ritual celebration. it is the expression not yet of faith, but of a right
- The reception will be adapted to local conditions and opportunities. Some
candidates need to see evidence of the spirit of Christians that they are
striving to understand and experience. For others, however, whose
catechumenate has been delayed for one reason or another, some first outward
act on their part or on the community's is appropriate.
- The reception will be held at a meeting or gathering of the local
community, on an occasion suitable for friendly conversation. An inquirer or
"sympathizer" is introduced by a friend and then welcomed and
received by the priest or some other worthy and suitable member of the
13. During the precatechumenate period, pastors should help inquirers with
prayers suited to them.
14. The rite described as the "entrance into the order of
catechumens" is of the utmost importance. Assembling publicly for the first
time, the candidates make their intention known to the Church and the Church,
carrying out its apostolic mission, admits those who intend to become members.
God showers his grace on them, as this celebration manifests their desire
publicly and marks their reception and first consecration by the Church.
15. For this step to be taken it is required that in the candidates the
beginnings of the spiritual life and the fundamentals of Christian teaching be
already established.  There must be evidence
of the first faith that was conceived during the period of the precatechumenate,
of an initial conversion and intention to change their lives and to enter into a
relationship with God in Christ. Consequently, there must also be evidence of
the first stirrings of repentance and a start to the practice of calling upon
God in prayer, and some first experience of the company and the spirit of
16. With the help of the sponsors (see no. 42), catechists, and deacons, it
is the responsibility of pastors to judge the external indications of these
dispositions.  It is also their duty, in view
of the power of sacraments already validly received (see General Introduction to
Christian Initiation no. 4), to see that no baptized person seeks for any reason
whatever to be baptized again.
17. After the celebration of the rite, the names are written at once in the
register of catechumens, along with the names of the minister and sponsors and
the date and place of admission.
18. From this time on, the catechumens, who have been welcomed by the Church
with a mother's love and concern and are joined to the Church, are now part of
the household of Christ;  they are nourished
by the Church on the word of God and sustained by liturgical celebrations. They
should be eager, then, to take part in the liturgy of the word and to receive
blessings and sacramentals. When two catechumens marry or when a catechumen
marries an unbaptized person, an appropriate rite is to be used.
 One who dies during the catechumenate
receives a Christian burial.
19. The catechumenate is an extended period during which the candidates are
given pastoral formation and are trained by suitable discipline.
 In this way, the dispositions manifested at
their entry into the catechumenate are brought to maturity. This is achieved in
- A suitable catechesis provided by priests, deacons, or catechists and
other laypersons, planned to be gradual and complete in its coverage,
accommodated to the liturgical year, and enriched by celebrations of the word,
leads the catechumens not only to an appropriate acquaintance with dogmas and
precepts but also to personal knowledge of the mystery of salvation in which
they desire to participate.
- Familiar with living the Christian way of life and helped by the example
and support of sponsors and godparents and the whole community of the
faithful, the catechumens learn to pray to God more easily, to witness to the
faith, to keep alive in all their activities the expectation of Christ, to
follow supernatural inspiration in their deeds, and to exercise charity toward
neighbor to the point of selfrenunciation. Thus formed, "new converts set
out on a spiritual journey. Already sharing through faith in the mystery of
Christ's death and resurrection, they pass from the old to a new nature made
perfect in Christ. This transition, which brings with it a progressive change
of outlook and conduct, should become evident together with its social
consequences and should be gradually effected during the time of the
catechumenate. Since the Lord in whom they believe is a sign of contradiction,
converts often experience divisions and separations, but they also taste the
joy that God gives without measure." 
- By suitable liturgical rites, the Church like a mother helps the
catechumens on their journey, cleanses them little by little and strengthens
them with God's blessing. It is recommended that celebrations of the word be
arranged for their benefit and they may also attend the liturgy of the word
with the faithful, thus better preparing themselves for participation in the
eucharist in time to come. Ordinarily, however, when they are present in the
assembly of the faithful, they should be dismissed in a friendly manner before
the liturgy of the eucharist begins, unless there are difficulties in this.
For they must await their baptism, which will bring them into the priestly
people and empower them to participate in Christ's new worship.
- Since the Church's life is apostolic, catechumens should also learn how to
work actively with others to spread the Gospel and build up the Church by the
testimony of their lives and the profession of their faith.
20. The period of time appropriate for the catechumenate depends on the grace
of God and on various circumstances, such as the program of instruction for the
catechumenate, the number of catechists, deacons, and priests, the cooperation
of the individual catechumens, the means necessary to reach the place of the
catechumenate and to spend time there, and the help of the local community.
Nothing, therefore, can be settled a priori. The bishop has the responsibility
of setting the period of time and directing the discipline of the catechumenate.
It is recommended that the conferences of bishops, after considering the
conditions of their people and region, 
regulate this matter in greater detail.
C. PERIOD OF PURIFICATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT
21. The time of purification and enlightenment of the catechumens customarily
coincides with Lent. Both in its liturgy and in its liturgical catechesis, Lent
is a commemoration of baptism or a preparation for it and a time of penance;
 it renews the community of the faithful
together with the catechumens and makes them ready to celebrate the paschal
mystery, which the sacraments of initiation apply to each individual.
22. The second stage of initiation begins the period of purification and
enlightenment, marked by a more intense preparation of heart and spirit. At this
stage the Church makes the "election," that is, the choice and
admission of the catechumens who because of their dispositions are worthy to
take part in the next celebration of the sacraments of initiation. This stage is
called election because the admission made by the Church is founded on the
election by God, in whose name the Church acts. It is also called the enrollment
of names because the candidates, as a pledge of fidelity, write their names in
the book of those who have been elected.
23. Before the election is celebrated, the candidates are expected to have a
conversion of mind and conduct, a sufficient acquaintance with Christian
teaching, and a sense of faith and charity. A decision on their suitableness is
also required. Later, in the actual celebration of the rite, the manifestation
of their intention and the decision of the bishop or his delegate should take
place in the presence of the community. It is thus clear that the election,
which enjoys such great solemnity, is the turning point in the whole
24. From the day of their election and admission, catechumens are called the
"elect." They also are called competentes ("competitors"),
because they vie with each other or compete to receive Christ's sacraments and
the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are also called illuminandi ("those to
be enlightened"), because baptism itself has the name
"illumination" and sheds the light of faith on the newly baptized. In
our times other terms may be used that, depending on regions and cultures, are
better suited to popular understanding and the idiom of the language.
25. During this period, a more intense spiritual preparation, which involves
interior recollection more than catechesis, is intended to purify hearts and
minds by the examination of conscience and by penance and also to enlighten
those hearts and minds with a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior. This is
accomplished in various rites, especially in the scrutinies and presentations.
- The "scrutinies," which are celebrated solemnly on Sundays, have
the twofold purpose mentioned above: to reveal anything that is weak,
defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect, so that it may be healed, and
to reveal what is upright, strong, and holy, so that it may be strengthened.
For the scrutinies are intended to free from sin and the devil and to give
strength in Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life of the elect.
- The "presentations," by which the Church hands on to the elect
its ancient texts of faith and prayer, namely, the creed and the Lord's
Prayer, are intended to enlighten the elect. The creed, recalling the
wonderful works of God for the salvation of the human race, suffuses the
vision of the elect with the light of faith and joy. In the Lord's Prayer,
they recognize more fully the new spirit of adoption by which they will call
God their Father, especially in the midst of the eucharistic assembly.
26. In immediate preparation for the sacraments:
- The elect should be instructed to rest from their ordinary work as far as
possible on Holy Saturday, spend the time in prayer and inner recollection,
and fast according to their ability. 
- That same day, if there is a meeting of the elect, some of the immediately
preparatory rites may be celebrated, such as the recitation of the creed, the
ephphetha rite, the choosing of a Christian name, and, if it is to be done,
the anointing with the oil of catechumens.
D. SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION
27. The sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist are the final
stage in which the elect come forward and, with their sins forgiven, are
admitted into the people of God, receive the adoption of the children of God,
are led by the Holy Spirit into the promised fullness of time, and, in the
eucharistic sacrifice and meal, have a foretaste of the kingdom of God.
A. CELEBRATION OF THE BAPTISM OF ADULTS
28. The celebration of baptism, which reaches its high point in the washing
with water and invocation of the Holy Trinity, is preceded by the blessing of
the water and the profession of faith, which are intimately linked to the rite
of washing with water itself.
29. The blessing of the water expresses the religious meaning of water as
God's creation and shows forth to all present the beginnings of God's saving
mystery; it recalls the unfolding of the paschal mystery and the use of water
for its sacramental accomplishment, while during it the Holy Trinity is invoked
for the first time.
30. In the rites of renunciation and profession of faith the same paschal mystery, already commemorated in the blessing of the water and soon to be professed briefly by the celebrant in the words of baptism, is proclaimed in the
active faith of those to be baptized. For adults are not saved unless, coming forward of their own accord, they have the will to accept God's gift by their belief. They are receiving the sacrament of faith, which is not only the faith of the Church, but also the faith of each one of them; and it is expected that it will be active in each one of them. As they are baptized, far from receiving
so great a sacrament merely passively, they enter into a covenant with Christ by an act of their own will, renouncing error and holding fast to the true God.
31. After professing in living faith Christ's paschal mystery, they come forward immediately to receive that mystery as expressed in the washing with water; upon their professing faith in the Holy Trinity, the Trinity, invoked by the celebrant, acts to number the elect among the adopted children of God and to make them part of the people of God.
32. Therefore the washing with water should be given its full importance in the celebration of baptism: it is the sign of the mystical sharing in Christ's death and resurrection that brings about in those who believe in his name death to sin and rising to eternal life. Accordingly, either immersion or infusion should be chosen for the rite, whichever suits individual cases better, so that in different traditions and circumstances there will be a clear understanding that this washing is not just a purification rite but the sacrament of being joined to Christ.
33. The anointing with chrism after baptism is a sign of the royal priesthood of the baptized and their enrollment into the company of the people of God. The white garment is a symbol of their new dignity and the lighted candle shows
their vocation to live as befits children of light.
B. CELEBRATION OF THE CONFIRMATION OF ADULTS
34. According to the ancient practice preserved in the Roman liturgy, adults are not to be baptized without receiving confirmation immediately afterward (see
no. 44), unless serious reasons prevent this. This combination signifies the unity of the paschal mystery, the link between the mission of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the connection between the two sacraments through which the Son and the Spirit come with the Father to those baptized.
35. Accordingly, confirmation is conferred after the explanatory rites of baptism, the postbaptismal anointing being omitted (no. 224).
C. THE NEOPHYTES' FIRST SHARING IN THE EUCHARIST
36. Lastly, the eucharist is celebrated. For the first time and with full right the neophytes take part in it. This is the culminating point of their initiation. For in this eucharist the neophytes, who have been raised to the
dignity of the royal priesthood, have an active part in both the general intercessions and, as far as possible, in the presentation of the gifts. With the whole community they take part in the celebration of the sacrifice and they
say the Lord's Prayer, thus giving expression to the spirit of adoption as God's children that they have received in baptism. Then, by receiving the body that was given and the blood that was shed, they confirm the gifts they have received and have a foretaste of the eternal banquet.
E. PERIOD OF POSTBAPTISMAL CATECHESIS OR MYSTAGOGY
37. After this last stage has been completed, the community along with the neophytes grows in perceiving more deeply the paschal mystery and in making it part of their lives by meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the Eucharist, and doing works of charity. This is the final period of initiation, the time of the neophytes' mystagogy or postbaptismal catechesis.
38. The neophytes acquire a truly more complete and more fruitful grasp of the "mysteries" by the newness of what they have heard and above all by the experience of the sacraments they have received. For they have been
renewed in mind, tasted more deeply the good word of God, received the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and discovered the beauty of the Lord. Out of this experience, which belongs to Christians and grows as it is lived, they
derive a new sense of the faith, the Church, and the world.
39. just as the freshness with which they come to the sacraments enlightens the neophytes' understanding of the Scriptures, so also it increases their knowledge of other people and thus has an impact on their experience of
community. As a result their interaction with the rest of the faithful is made easier and more beneficial. The period of postbaptismal catechesis is of utmost importance so that the neophytes, with the help of their godparents, may enter
into closer ties with the other faithful and bring to the others a renewed vision and fresh energies.
40. Since the distinctive character and force of this period issue from the new, personal experience of the sacraments and of the community, the chief setting for the postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy is the Masses called
Masses for neophytes, that is, the Sunday Masses of the Easter season. In these celebrations, besides meeting with the community and sharing in the mysteries, the newly baptized will find the readings of the Lectionary particularly appropriate for them, especially the readings of Year A. For this reason, the whole local community should be invited to these Masses, along with the
neophytes and their godparents. The texts of these Masses may be used even when Christian initiation is celebrated outside the usual time.