31 October 2012

Not Alone

First order of business: a mere five months until Easter Vigil Mass! That thought thrills me with peace, excitement and the ever-present tingle of nervousness. The countdown continues....

I first heard of RCIA from a young man, J, at the end of a Thursday evening Mass. RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is a class for people interested in joining the Church or for Catholics who have not yet been Confirmed. I have been attending classes on Thursdays this semester with around thirty other Catechumens (unbaptized)/Candidates (validly baptized) and sponsors. Sponsors are strong Catholic parish members who advise and guide their "sponsoree" throughout the RCIA process.

Last week my sponsor, M, and I went to lunch. We talked about unusual sleep schedules, siblings and our faith backgrounds. She described her home life of rather sincere Catholics, a mother who urged daily prayer of the Rosary together, multiple siblings as seems the traditional fashion (it still strikes me as bizarre that random people I encounter seem to know, if nothing else, that Catholics generally make up or desire large families: how did everyone know this before I knew anything substantial about Catholicism?). My description of a Baptist Protestant, thank you upbringing, seemed to leave M a bit stunned. On my part I suppose I was stunned too.

I've spent more than two years on a campus which boasts of its international student percentage, yet never before had I been so aware of the multiple backgrounds from which people come. In a way, I find myself envious: just investigating the Church in the last year and a half has me still at the starting line, I think. Compared to "cradle Catholics," I sometimes feel as though I will have to push myself to "catch up," like Harry worried in the first book before classes (there had to be a Harry Potter reference here at some point). I don't know about the lives of saints. I don't know certain prayers. I probably can't name more than a handful of popes without counting off ones which must have existed based upon numbers (eg. Benedict XVI, Benedict XV, Benedict XIV... Speaking of the Pope: how would I address him? His Holiness? That's referring, I think. Your Holiness? Cardinals have "Cardinal" put in some weird place in their full name, right? This is like multiplying binomials all over again.). I still stumble through remembering which Rosary mysteries go with which other mysteries and which day. I still have to make mental notes to look into St. Ignatius of Antioch's writings and saints I may consider for my Confirmation name. I still wonder weakly (and possibly foolishly) sometimes as I'm kneeling before the altar whether or not my words and lack of eloquence can be so pleasing to God after beautiful hymns have been sung.

Then I kick myself in the pants. I have learned so much in the last several months. Even if they seem a bit random (the cloth laid on the altar where the Blessed Sacrament is placed is called a corporal, from the Latin word for body), they are still useful pieces of knowledge. Even if I don't have all the answers, I have a wealth of knowledge to explore, many people to ask, numerous books to read. My prayers are sincere, my intentions to grow spiritually earnest.

I suppose what I'm really trying to say here is, though people have different histories and perspectives, though others seem to be swallowing steaks whole while I'm sipping a glass of milk, we're still learning and growing. That's part of the point of sponsors: they /should/ appear more knowledgeable, because they should be good Catholics capable of guiding those investigating the Church. What is more reassuring is the fact that the knowledge I have, no matter how inconsequential it may seem to my eyes, can teach others (all praise and glory to God if He chooses to utilize me in such a way). The Church isn't individual pieces here and there. It is a body, with Christ as the head. What better body to be a part of?

"Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body." Ephesians 5:23

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