Monday, April 25, 2011

My Thoughts on RCIA, Easter Vigil and Confirmation

As I've noted elsewhere on the blog, I was in the process of converting to the Catholic faith through RCIA.

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) has been a great experience for me. I had enrolled and started the process several years ago but a sudden change in jobs, moving and other life issues resulted in dropping from the program. Over the past several weeks (7 months, I think) I have met several great Catholics who have influenced my conversion and faith. We had a great group of RCIA leaders, a mix of parishioners, priests and a Sister. They were all great and very knowledgeable in the faith and I'm glad to say that they are in my faith "family tree".

Our RCIA group was lead by a Benedictine Sister. Each week either a parishioner, priest or the Sister would cover one of the several topics ranging from Church History, moral issues, what Catholics believe, the Scripture, prayer, and just about anything else that is important to our faith. We had nice handouts and then the leader for that week would most of the time have some extra tidbits to hand out and talk about. We also read the coming week's Mass readings and discuss the meanings of them. The result is a very good education on the Church and Faith.

Again, we had a great group. The leaders were great as mention above but we also had an outstanding group of candidates. Our group of candidates was 6 people, two men, four women. We had a very social group and I think we would all say that we've made several new friends and have learned a lot from each other over this process.  Everyone has a level of dedication to the program that far exceeded my expectations.

I guess this long process of conversion is what weeds out those who are serious and those that are not and I think that's a good thing. I think it's great that before you are confirmed, you will be informed of exactly what you are getting into and what is expected. I think that it's not good for the church to be just confirming people to boost numbers, but it's great to boost numbers with informed, educated members who understand the faith.

I will miss RCIA when we finish next month.

I was confirmed and welcomed into the Church on Saturday at Easter Vigil. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I didn't feel like this was just some thing we do and we'd just get it over with. To me, it was the ultimate welcome to the Church. I was surprised at how genuine and excited the members of the church were to welcome us to the Church. I guess I just assumed that most people would just think, "good for you, now lets get this done". This was far from the truth. As my classmates and our sponsors stood up front and went thought confirmation I watched the parishioner's. So many had such big prideful smiles on their faces.  Another very nice thing was that our Church has a school attached and every grade and the youth group all wrote us each a nice welcome letter.

The church was decked in white and gold, the priest wore great vestments of white and gold. There were many more candles, and a fountain blessed near the altar. The dark church, the lighting of the fire and the paschal candle. The prayers in candle light. It made for a great atmosphere of symbolism to open the mass, an aspect of the Catholic Church that I find far underrated by most people. This was to be the culmination of the Resurrection and through God's Grace our conversion.

You couldn't help comparing the candidates situation and part in the Mass to the Resurrection. The comparison is that Jesus has Risen and in a sense the candidates are experiencing a transition to the light as well. All in all, this was a great experience and I couldn't think of a better way to initiate new members (RCIA process, Easter Vigil). I think it also highlights depth and thought that the church puts into all things. Everything has a reason, everything is meaningful and has a correct way of doing them.

My next objective (besides, obviously, living faithful Catholic life):

Joining The Knights of Columbus. After Easter Vigil I was asked by a couple members of our local KoC chapter if I'd like to join. Having done much research on the KoC, I think it's right up my alley.


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