The End of the Journey
This is the last “Journey through RCIA” blog. Please keep this writer and everyone who is preparing to enter the church this week in your prayers. Thank you for reading……
The End of the Journey
This week marks the last week in the RCIA process. It is Holy Week, and at the end of this week Easter will be celebrated and with that the Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation will take place, thus ending the journey for RCIA and beginning the life-long journey toward Christ.
This last leg of the RCIA journey is a fast paced, event packed one. To get a sense of what that means, here is a brief summary of the events that take place. Starting after the Third Scrutiny; which occurs on the fifth Sunday in Lent, every day has some activity or rite. There is a Seder Meal, to allow us to experience what the Last Supper would have been like. Then retreats for the Elect to prepare them further for baptism and reception into the Church. Followed by Palm Sunday, which is the time that the Church celebrates the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem and His last days before His passion and crucifixion. At which Holy Week starts in ernest. Monday, are the retreats for the Candidates to remember their baptism and recall why they were baptized in the first place. Tuesday the Chrism Mass is celebrated where all the priests of the area come to the Cathedral and receive the sacramental oils to be used throughout the rest of the liturgical year. Wednesday, is the Penance Rite (Sacrament of Reconciliation, a.k.a First Confession). Then Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, depending on if one is a Candidate (baptized) or Elect (unbaptized) there are the final rites given that are the First Communion (Rite of Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church); celebration of the Lord’s Passion; and Preparation Rites for the Elect. Finally, everything culminates on Easter Sunday. The Candidates are now fully part of the Church. The Elect then receive baptism, first communion, and confirmation all in one day.
Speaking for myself, when we were told at the beginning of this process that we would be doing the program for a year, it seemed like a enormous amount of time. However, now, only days from Easter, it seems as if it is not enough time. In a year’s time, I have come from a place where I knew I wanted to join the Catholic church, but had many reservations and fears; to now wanting to join the Catholic church without reservation or hesitation. Many of my colleagues have expressed the same feelings of nervousness at the entrance into the Church, but not for fear of it, but for wanting to do the right things at the right times and to make those who have instructed us over the last year proud.
In my own situation, this year will not see me enter into the Church at Easter. I have been married before, and so has my current wife. As such, we are still in the process of getting our prior marriages annulled. By all accounts, it can be anywhere from six weeks to eighteen months before we know what the outcomes are. A year ago, this seemed like a unjust and lengthy amount of time to wait. However, now, with hindsight, I can see that the period of time is not some arbitrary punishment. Rather, it is time that the Church evaluates each individual case and then can make a ruling as to the validity of the marriage at the moment each person made their vows. Part of the time is taken up with giving a full and complete accounting of what your past was like up to the moment of marriage, and what the relationship was like before during and after; as well as what the other person was like during the same times.
To be perfectly honest, the questions were hard to answer. They opened up a lot of old wounds that I forgot about but never dealt with. In a way, it allowed me the ability to review that time in my life and the time before with the clarity of hindsight. It gave me a window into my past that I never would have opened. As a result, I dealt with some deep resentments I still held, and some deep wrongs that I had committed. Strangely, I feel better now and have sought out the forgiveness from those whom I wronged and have forgiven myself of the things I was holding on to. Even-though I may not be coming into the Church at this Easter, I am now prepared to wait and will be ready when the time comes. Until then, I have made friends; participated in many things that many Catholics never will; examined my own faith and life much more deeply than ever; and gained insights that could not have been attained any other way.
For my regular readers, I want to apologize for not writing the last few weeks. I suffered a slipped disc in my back and as you can imagine I was not able to write at a level I was satisfied with. While I still have some pain, and doctors appointments upcoming to examine what damage may have occurred, I am feeling better. I have written through sicknesses, and migraines before; but this was a whole level above those.
I hope this series has helped you in some way and that my journey will inspire you to enter into the RCIA program yourself, or to give your time and talents to those who are themselves just starting their journey. I will continue to write posts on a regular weekly basis that can be read here and when it is ready on my site www.gonecatholic.com. Have a blessed Holy Week, and Easter holiday.
A Brother In Christ