18 February 2013

Rites and More Than Alright

Today I went to Peoria (my city falls within the diocese of Peoria) for the Rite of Election. At this rite, catechumens (unbaptized) become the elect and candidates (baptized) are called to continued conversion. The bishop, in this case Bishop Jenky, acknowledges our desire to join the Church and encourages us to continue in our path throughout Lent leading to Easter. All the catechumens and candidates in the diocese go and affirm their intentions and are introduced to the Bishop.

1. Top and front of the cathedral. 2. Thought this guy was cute. Gabriel? 3. The balcony where we sat. 4. Outside corner of the cathedral. 

As the day started, I was slightly nervous because I knew I didn't want to mess anything up. Any formal important event makes me nervous, especially if it is in front of many people and more so when it is faith-related. Of all the things I could mess up in my life, making known my desire to join the Church is not one I want on the list. As the day progressed, I became more and more worried. What do I say? What if my name wasn't on the list? Should I bow? Should I kiss his ring?

But of course, everything turned out fine. The cathedral was very pretty and very blue (which is fitting, since it is The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception). I had one line ("Thanks be to God."), my name was on the list, I bowed slightly toward the altar and I was not offered the ring. I sort of muttered a "Your excellency," as I shook his hand, in true awkward fashion, but the moment I stepped away to go back to my seat, all my anxiety vanished. I wonder if this will be enough of a learning experience for me that I won't be a bundle of nerves once Easter arrives, but I will probably forget by then. Besides: finally taking the Eucharist is one thousand times a bigger deal than meeting the bishop. Not to cause premature panic or anything....

So pretty. This was a view from a few feet to the left of my seat. I want all the ceilings in my future house to be this lovely blue color.
One of the best parts of the day was the music. At the rite, the recessional was "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name," which is one of my favorite hymns (have I mentioned it before?) and I love singing it. Once home at Mass, we sang "You are Mine" by David Haas. The chorus goes:
"Do not be afraid, I am with you,I have called you each by name,

Come and follow me,
I will bring you home,
I love you and you are mine."

It struck me as so continuous with the rite, though they were in different places, and it seemed completely fitting. We were called forward by name to finally come home to the Church. It is a very comforting thought, at the least.

The other best part of the day was all the time I was able to spend with other Catholics. None of my close family is Catholic and none of my coworkers are Catholic. It was really nice to spend a lot of time with people who know what I'm talking about, who I can discuss things with. My sponsor, M, and her husband, H, drove me up with two other candidates/catechumens. We talked about music, how to address a bishop, how and when to genuflect... After the rite, M would trade off and continue to her family while we would return to the university (though we first stopped for dinner and M's mom gave me a very pretty decade bracelet). On the way back we prayed a Rosary all together (which I've not done before, together with many people aloud) and talked about how Catholicism plays a role in our lives with our families and friends and how it has changed us. Once we were back, I went home briefly before going to Mass (love love love 9PM Mass) and after I ran into H and our mutual friend, L. We stood in the foyer talking for nearly an hour about the rite, Mass, Pope Benedict, blogging, fish, puppy chow, fasting, college, logic, how worthless our (my?) degrees might be...

Isn't this nice? I'm really new to all of this Catholic beady pretty stuff, but I feel so awesome wearing this! I love how Marian it is and it was so appropriate, given the church.

It sounds extensive, but really, that's the way good conversation goes: a group of people talks about something that leads to another topic and somehow initial awkwardness I feel at being unable to provide something terribly interesting becomes a communal exchange where everyone learns something and contributes. I know it's incredibly simple: it is just conversation. People do it all the time. But I really keep to myself and sometimes feel I am "in it alone" when it comes to Catholicism. I know that isn't true: (obviously God is there, and that will always be enough to keep me from being alone) so many others are in RCIA and everyone there has been really supportive, but outside of that environment, I do often feel like I am alone in wading through the faith. At least in a physical sense: I can be virtually tied to a Catholic community by reading eighty blog posts a week (which I will do if you let me), but it is quite another thing to walk to classes, sit in classes and go to work and not feel that connection. It truly is not as desolate as I am making it out to be. I just mean to say that it is nice to be forming Catholic friendships. It is more than alright.
1. The program for the rite. Programs make me feel fancy. 2. Apparently, our parish used to own these stations, but the bishop liked them a lot so he brought them to the cathedral. Very beautiful. I didn't get a picture (though I should have!) of the statue of St. Therese off to the side. I knew it was her instantly. She's still in my mind as a potential Confirmation saint...

I have been worrying a lot about what happens after I graduate: I plan, at the least, to leave my college town. A lot will change and I imagine the seemingly most important things are the fact that I'll be done with school and I won't be working at the restaurant anymore. But for me, the biggest worry is finding a new parish I can love and appreciate as much as I do the one I have now. I adore the priests there and have a certain area where I sit and can count on Latin Mass on Tuesdays and know what the music will sound like. Steadily, I have become more familiar with the faces at RCIA and gotten closer to my sponsor. It saddens me to think of leaving. I worry about finding a parish that may be Catholic and people may really believe everything they should, but it will feel rushed or not as reverent somehow. My parish has become the college bubble I have been warned about (you know, how when you see a high school kid on campus, it makes no sense to you... or if you see an old person on campus, they have to be a professor: why else would they be there? That kind of weird thing you start thinking). I really don't want to let go of that bubble.

I think I could interpret making these friendships better as negative: I'll only end up leaving in a few months and never see them again, that sort of thing. But really, I should be taking the opposite view: I still have time to make good friendships that mean more to me than others I could make because we share an important detail: our faith. Even more: we are brothers and sisters in Christ. I don't even know them all that well, but this sole fact makes me eager to become better friends with them. (It probably should make me eager to be friends with a great deal of people, but I have enough social problems as it is just trying to be friends with three people. Baby steps.)

I should probably relax. It's just nice. It's nice to make friends and be able to hold decent conversations and laugh with people you don't know too well but would be willing to trust. It's nice to hypothesize and be surprised and show confusion and support people who you wish all the best for, who you wish you could spend way more time with but other obligations and eventual life decisions probably will get in the way at some point. It is nice to live in the moment and be honest and feel accepted. It's nice to be happy.

(And 40 days from Easter Vigil.)


  1. J'adore your decade bracelet! And I can't believe it's 40 days 'till Easter Vigil!

    1. Thank you! I like it quite a bit and sometimes forget it is there until it slides around and clanks against something. It was a very nice gift. :) I likewise cannot comprehend Easter Vigil being so close. I remember thinking to myself: "Seven months away!"

  2. Haley,

    Christopher shared this with me. I just participated in the rite of acceptance today. It was very nice. Also, nice reflection, I relate with a number of your thoughts and feelings throughout this process.


    1. Hi Dax! How are you? Hooray rite of acceptance! How fun. Which diocese are you at? Do you have a confirmation saint in mind?

      Thanks for checking out the blog. I sometimes get a little cringe-y looking back at old posts like these, largely because I realize my awkwardness has not decreased. Haha.