Thursday, September 25, 2008


RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in the Catholic Church is a source of great happiness and consolation as well as of deep frustration.  At its base, the rite is meant to emulate the journey that Jesus took with His disciples for three years,  He teaching them the true meaning of discipleship in the light of the Scriptures and they absorbing the way of life that He was showing to them.  The moral conversion of their lives was not an easy one to make.  They were not really spiritual people, they were simple Jews.  They did not come from the Temple, they came from the secular working class.  Surely they knew their basic Scriptural lessons from the Old Testament, but Jesus was there to show them how He meant for these same lessons to be lived.  
Slowly, daily contact and daily exchange of ideas began to have an effect on them.  Slowly, he came to understand what He meant and where He wanted them to go.  Slowly, they came to appreciate the difference between Jesus, themselves, the Temple people and the people on the street.  That is the goal of the Church: to teach those who would be Catholic the meaning of true discipleship with Jesus.  The goal of the Church is not to prepare people to received the sacrament of Baptism.  Although Baptism is essential to Christian life, the living of the grace infused into the soul through this essential sacrament is, after all a lifetime calling.  To live this calling dynamically on a daily basis is where our eternal salvation is crafted in the company of Jesus, in and through the Church.  This life is not fulfilled by the mechanical reception of sacrament after sacrament; it is not fulfilled by getting to accumulate more and more intellectual information about God and His Church;  it is fulfilled by living the Mission given to us all, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, etc.  
It brings me to other points:  The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is not a catechism program to prepare candidates for Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation.  
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is not a seasonal program that lasts from the second week of September to the third week of May, gloriously cranking out newly baptized Catholics after 8 months of text book preparation.  Ever stop to think if that's the way the Baptists do it? I'd bet that a caller who would be told in July to get back to us in September would resolve the problem by finding someone who would solve the problem NOW.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a hard row to hoe.  It requires a deep commitment by deeply spiritual people.  These people do exist.  Note to pastors:  These people do exist.  The pastor is not in a position to "pity" the volunteers  who dedicate themselves to the Rite by giving them the Summer off.  It is not up to him to create a revolving group of "teachers" or "presenters" so that no one will have to be up and ready for 52 weeks per years.  This does not create the community that Christ created with His disciples because of His constant presence among them.  The Rite is based on creating Community so that people can convert to the Community of the Church, the Communion of Saints.  

That's the bottom line.  It all leads to walking with Jesus and learning to work at doing what He told us to do.  That's what true Catholics do.  The pastors should facilitate this process through the priesthood of all faithful by humbly accepting that their are lay people in this world who are more zealous that those who are sent to lead them.