A Journey through RCIA – The Sacraments and Rights
The Sacraments and Rights.
In today’s culture, it can be hard to fully grasp what it means to say something is sacred. After all, the trend for the last several decades is to tear down anything sacred. Yet, if I am being honest with myself, I crave the idea that some things are to be revered and Holy. Part of the reason I am in the RCIA program is because of how the Catholic Church refuses to bend to pressures from the modern mess and insists on keeping certain practices sacred without regard to how popular or unpopular that might be for the moment. The church recognizes that God placed in all of us a need to connect with our Creator, and that the act of connecting with Him lets us touch a plane of existence above our own. Its this connection that many, including myself, seek out of some primal urge given to us by a loving God who wants to be with us for all eternity.
The sacraments and rights of The Church were established by Christ Himself to help fulfill that need of oneness with God. Each of the sacraments gives us grace, and that grace is just as necessary to our well-being as eating, drinking, and breathing. As I look forward to my confirmation and to my first communion, I can feel more and more a sensation of being pulled toward a closer relationship with Christ.
I have always felt a certain pulling towards the things God, and in trying to follow that call, I would join organizations seeking out fulfillment. However, it usually felt like dating someone. There would be excitement followed by anticipation, and then after a time when the newness wears off there is a realization that the attraction was to a superficiality that quickly faded when tested. It was easy to get caught up in the fervor of an alter-call, but after the service, everyone went back to normal as if nothing really changed. While some of that normal up and down can be attributed to my own thoughts and actions, it was also attributed to the absence of true sacredness.
Unlike any other church I have attended, the Catholic church, lives and practices the sacredness of sacramentals and rights. Because the Church believes in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, there is never a casual or flippant attitude regarding communion. Because the Church believes that one can only be baptized once for the forgiveness of original sin, there is a great deal of attention given to whether or not one has been baptized before. Because the Church believes that a sacramentally valid marriage cannot be dissolved, there is a always a long counseling of couples seeking to be married which seeks to not only ascertain if each person is completely ready to give of themselves for a lifetime; but also to communicate the full scale of what that commitment means. This means that there are times that a priest will refuse to marry a couple, and given that over half of all marriages these days end in civil divorces; this refusal could be the one thing that saves a couple from a future of pain.
There are those who see the sacraments of the Church as some sort of means to trap people or to lord over people how they need to submit to the Church for the purpose of keeping power others. I believed at one time that all the “catholic” stuff was a type of mind-control and that the rules and rights were nothing more than church folk trying to keep people in fear for the benefit of the church. Now, I know how far off the mark I was and am embarrassed that I was so very wrong. I can say confidently now that every action the Church asks is from a place of keeping in the traditions given first by God the Father and then by Christ the Son for the salvation and benefit of all man-kind. To the modern mind, it can seem strange that there are those things out there that are Holy and set apart by Christ, but that does not diminish their existence nor our need for them in any way.
If we are being honest, I think most of us would say we have a inner need to be apart of something greater than ourselves. As I continue on my journey, I am doing exactly that, and in so doing I can say I truly feel like I am apart of a greater whole. I only hope that I can help others find what I have found and that I can be there for them as those who have been and are there for me.
– A Brother In Christ.