Becoming a CatholicInformation & Inspiration
The Shape of the Rite — Stage 3
Third period & stage
Third Period — Period of the Purification & Enlightenment
The names of the periods and stage date back to the earliest centuries of the Church. When the Church decide to restore this way of welcoming new members about 50 years ago it recognised that there were similarities between then and now. In particular that you could not assume that people were baptised and members of a church as you might have done in the past. This meant people were coming into the Church as adults rather being christened as infants.
This period is the final time of preparation before the goal of the whole process — Easter and becoming a member of the Church. This period is like the time an athlete will put in before a big race. The feel of each of the periods is different and this is one of spiritual preparation. It is usual for this period to take place in Lent — the six weeks before Easter when the whole Church prepares to celebrate it well.
Third Stage — Sacraments of Initiation
This happens at the Easter Vigil — a special service on the night before Easter Sunday. It is when the Church celebrates Jesus’ rising from the dead and giving new life. So in baptism you die to your old life and rise to your new life as a member of the Church. This is sealed in Confirmation and finally, you can receive Holy Communion as a full member of the local community.