The baptismal catechumenate is the source of inspiration for all catechesis. This process of formation includes four stages, as well as rituals that mark those stages:
- The first stage, the pre-catechumenate, coincides with the first evangelization, in which the primary proclamation of the Gospel and the initial call to conversion to Christ takes place.
- The handing on of the Gospels accompanies the second stage, the catechumenate, and begins the period in which a more integral and systematic catechesis is presented to the catechumens and candidates.
- The third stage, purification and enlightenment, is characterized by the celebration of the scrutinies, by more intense prayer, and by the study and conferral of the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. This time is characterized by a more intense preparation for the sacraments of initiation.
- Fourth, the mystagogy, or post-baptismal catechesis, marks the time in which the neophyte experiences the sacraments and enters fully into the life of the community.
"These stages, which reflect the wisdom of the great catechumenal tradition, also inspire the gradual nature of catechesis." (GDC, no. 89)