As RCIA Director I talk to many people who express interest in the Catholic Church. Two of the first questions I ask are: Why do you desire to become a Catholic? What/Who brings you here? The most frequent responses are: I have family or friends who are catholic; My parents are joining; I’m marrying a Catholic; I like the traditions and ritual; or I’m not sure. It seems to me these responses point to a common thread or need, namely a desire for “spirituality” and “belonging.”
Richard Mc Brien describes spirituality as experiencing God, resulting in transformation of our consciousness and lives. Since God is available to everyone, spirituality is not exclusively Christian, but Christian spirituality is a life given to the Holy Spirit, and incorporation into the Body of Jesus Christ. It is surrendering to “God the Creator in a life of faith, hope, love, and service. It is visionary, sacramental, relational, and transformational.” (Catholicism, 1058.) It seems to me, this concept of spirituality is the cornerstone of catechesis for the RCIA Journey. On this journey there are three primary stages.
First, the inquirer begins to recognize God’s presence in the ordinary. Every experience of God is unique and personal; the touch of wind, the smell of roses, the warmth of the sun, the small hand of a child, the kiss of a loved one, the tragedy of poverty, hunger and suffering, the violence of war, terminal illness or death of a relative or friend. God is present in these experiences, leading our lives by a golden thread, weaving a unique pattern for each of us. When we recognize His presence in these every day experiences, we make a choice to embrace His way.
Second, the experience transforms the catechumen. They feel and act differently, opening themselves to God’s gift of agape; embracing, cherishing, and sharing it. Their actions reflect His unconditional love toward all of creation.
Finally, others can see the Holy Spirit living and working in the lives of the Elect. Their life becomes one of faith, hope and service. Their lives are visionary, sacramental, relational, and transformational to others.
This is the path all Catholics must follow. Learning doctrine and attending Mass at least once a week is not enough. Our strength as Christians, lies in embracing the whole of human life, experiencing God in that wholeness, and through our actions, witnessing to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I believe the catechumenal journey continues throughout life, until we experience the joy of seeing God and being glorified with Him. I hope each of you will journey with our RCIA team and individuals seeking initiation. Share your experiences of God freely; look for ways God transforms your life, and envision how to share God’s love in the present.
For additional information please contact me, Sandy Gagnon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-522-3311.