Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent and my Rite of Welcome into the Catholic Church. This doesn’t mean I’m Catholic now; it’s just the end of the “inquiry phase” of my exploration of the Catholic faith, and the beginning of the next phase. This exploration continues until Easter, as those of us in the RCIA program learn about Catholicism and what it means to join the Church.
On Sunday, we stood up in front of the congregation to be welcomed into the church, blessed by the priest, and to receive a cross and a Bible. It was a neat experience for me to make this public statement of my faith journey. Everyone in the church now knows that about a dozen people are seeking God through the Catholic Church. There is also something very concrete about standing up in front of a few hundred people to declare what we are there for.
Each of us has a sponsor who is making the journey with us—accompanying us to the RCIA meetings, praying for us, and standing up at the front of the church with us. My sponsor is my best friend’s mom. She was also my sponsor when I got confirmed in the Lutheran church some eight years ago. Growing up, I saw the crucifixes and icons around their house and occasionally attended church with them. My friend and I went with her mom to Eucharistic adoration, and played quietly in the back of the church while she prayed. It has been neat to have her making this journey and sharing her with me.
Much of what we have learned so far in RCIA, I already knew—Creation, the Ten Commandments, the Trinity. Other things were new—the rosary, the liturgical year, the Church hierarchy. Many things I had already talked over with my fiancé, as we discussed our differing faith backgrounds and what that meant for our relationship. Working through them before encountering them in RCIA has helped me to listen, to learn, and to be able to help the other journeyers there.
We come from many different backgrounds—baptized, unbaptized, Protestant, non-Christian, once-a-year Christian, every-Sunday Christian. We come together to talk about our faith, our struggles, our questions. It has been fun to get to know each other, to hear their perspectives about the issues that we discuss, and to learn more about the Catholic Church. I’m looking forward to the next phase of the journey.