OCIA Terms

Order of Christian Initiation of Adults

OCIA Glossary of Terms


A period of four weeks prior to Christmas. It has a twofold theme: preparing for the Second Coming of Christ and preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.


One who is already baptized in another Christian faith and who now is preparing to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church. At the time of full reception, he or she will make a profession of faith, be confirmed, and receive Eucharist.


One who is not baptized and is preparing for full initiation at the Easter Vigil through baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist.

Catechumenate Period

The second period of the Order of Christian Initiation of adults involves intense preparation in word, worship, community life, and apostolic works.

Cycles A, B, C

The three-year cycle of liturgical readings: A Cycle - Matthew; B Cycle - Mark; C Cycle - Luke. All three cycles incorporate John. 2008 was Year A. 2009 was Year B, 2010 is Year C, etc. The Gospel of John is read during the Easter season in all three years. The first reading is usually from the Old Testament, reflecting important themes from the Gospel reading. The second reading is usually from one of the epistles, a letter written to an early church community. These letters are read semi-continuously.

Easter Season

A period of seven weeks begins with Easter Sunday and ends with the feast of Pentecost.


The name is assigned to catechumens who celebrate the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent signifying they are being chosen for the initiation sacraments.


The task of the Church during the pre-catechumenate involves inviting, welcoming, the witness, sharing faith, and proclamation of the gospel to inquirers/candidates.


Those who participate in the pre-catechumenate of a parish. They are "inquiring" into the Christianity in the Catholic Tradition.


The book used in liturgical celebrations that contains all the scripture readings of the liturgical year.


A six-week period extending from Ash Wednesday to sundown on Holy Thursday. It is a spiritual time in preparation for the Easter Triduum.

Liturgical Year

The seasons and cycles of the Christian year. It is the instrument and means for leading God's people along the way to the Lord. The readings introduce and invite us into the Paschal Mystery. It includes the Christmas Cycle (the first Sunday of Advent through the Baptism of the Lord), the Easter Cycle ( Ash Wednesday through Pentecost), and Ordinary Time.

Minor Rites

Rites during the period of the catechumenate include exorcisms, blessings, and anointings.

Mystagogy Period

The final period of the Order of Christian initiation of adults is from Easter to Pentecost. Spiritually, mystagogy is a lifelong journey in your relationship with God. In Greek, it means "learning about the mysteries." Pope Benedict wrote, "The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated, offering one's life to God in unity with the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the whole world... The mature fruit of mystagogy is an awareness that one's life is being progressively transformed by the holy mysteries being celebrated. The aim of all Christian education, moreover, is to train the believer in an adult faith that can make him a 'new creation', capable of bearing witness in his surroundings to the Christian hope that inspires him."

Purification and Enlightenment Period

Following the Rite of Sending and the Rite of Election, you enter the third OCIA Phase -- The Period of Purification and Enlightenment (which coincides with Lent). This is a period of more intense spiritual preparation -- a more interior reflection intended to purify the minds and hearts of the "elect". A deeper knowledge of Christ Our Savior will be sought through continued fellowship, study, and the celebration of three scrutinies.


The OCIA, which stands for the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults, is a process through which non-baptized men and women enter the Catholic Church. It includes several stages marked by study, prayer, and rites at Mass. Participants in the OCIA are known as catechumens. They undergo a process of conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. The OCIA process follows the ancient practice of the Church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism. In 1974 the Order of Christian Initiation for Adults was formally approved for use in the United States.


The scrutinies are rites of self-searching and repentance and have above all a spiritual purpose. The scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good. The scrutinies are celebrated in order to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. These rites complete the conversion of the elect and deepen their resolve to hold fast to Christ and to carry out their decision to love God above all. The scrutinies are solemnly celebrated on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent at Mass.