You Want Me to do What?
As promised in my last post, "God is a User" I want to share with you the rest of the story.
RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults for anyone not familiar with the acronym) was an eye-opening experience for me. Because I had little or no background in Christianity, much of what I learned was difficult for me to comprehend. There still were many practical things I needed to learn to fully live out this Christian calling.
Almost all of my past sense of spirituality and religious formation were based on my understanding of the "New Age Movement." I found it difficult at times to accept all that the Catholic Church taught. I had lots of questions. I had lots of doubts. There were times I would walk away from a class feeling 100% certain this was what God wanted for me. There were times when I would walk away and wonder what I had gotten myself into. It was at those times I would try to rationalize and adapt what I was being told to fit into something that I could accept. A bad habit that I would have to break, but that story is for another day.
Part of the journey for each person in RCIA are the rituals and periods of discernment. These moments are when the person in RCIA makes the decision to move forward on the journey. Amazingly, at each step of discernment I felt the call to move forward.
The culmination of the RCIA process is the experience of Holy Week and then to become a fully initiated Catholic on Easter Vigil. I had never attended a Mass during Holy Week before. I had no idea what to expect.
I watched with great reverence as Holy Thursday Mass took place and the feet of a great many parishioners were washed. It was a beautiful and moving Mass, and I was happy to be just a spectator at that point.
Ah, But Good Friday was another story. It was explained that we would be offered an opportunity to venerate the cross. Thus the conversation with someone from RCIA that went something like this:
"Well how do people do that?" I asked
They answered "Some people genuflect or bow at the cross, some people kiss the cross."
My doubts started to kick in. I thought to myself. Kiss the cross?...um... I don't think so! That seems just plain weird. What other weird things do Catholics do that I don't know about? What am I getting myself into?
So I asked the RCIA person, "Do we have to do kiss the cross?
They answered "No you don't have to, but...." and they proceeded to elaborate on why we venerate the cross and why I would want to do this as well.
All I really heard was, I don't have to kiss it if I don't want. I could handle that.
I went to the Good Friday service and I sat alone toward the back.
The cross was brought forth in the ritual manner that is reserved for Good Friday. It was placed in front of the altar and the people in the rows in front of me began to go forward to adore and to venerate the cross.
I watched intently as everyone in the entire first row genuflected and kissed the cross.
Then the next row did the same.
And then the next...
I began to panic for some reason. My thoughts raced. That's it. No way. I can't do this. Maybe I'm not meant to be Catholic. I thought back to the Mass I went to as I child, when I was asked to bring up the gifts. Maybe I am just a fake. Someone else please just bow or something, Or better yet, someone else stay in your seat, then I won't feel like the odd person out if I stay in my seat.
It was almost time for my row to go, and so far every single person in that church had kissed the cross. And, you guessed it, not a single person stayed behind in their seat.
It was my row's turn. My need to blend in and not stand out were very strong. So, I got up with the rest of the people in my row. I approached the cross. As I walked forward inching ever nearer, I told myself "I will just bow or something I guess, because I am not going to kiss it."
And then It was my turn. I was at the foot of the cross. I knelt down. And then something else took control over me and I did what I said I wasn't going to do. I kissed the cross.
I felt nothing. I turned and went back to my seat. I sat down and I started to tremble. And then I started to cry. I don't mean that I just teared up. I mean I started to sob. I did not care at that point if anyone saw me. Because in that moment, in that most extraordinary moment, the spirit of God come upon me to let me know that everything was as it should be. That I was doing the right thing. I belonged there.
The next day at the Easter Vigil, with my husband, mother and father in attendance (my parents drove 100 miles to be there) I was received into the church. I felt like I was floating on a cloud the entire night.
My sponsor would tell me later that I looked so peaceful. and that I just seemed to glow.
You know what? I think I probably did.
by Cyndi Marlow
'For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29: 11-13
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