So, back to the topic of welcoming people into the Church… Who are we talking about? In my experience over the last two years, enquirers come in all shapes and sizes. There are young parents who want to become Catholic for their child (or to get them into a Catholic school, if you’re of a more cynical view…), there are young adults who want to be confirmed so they can get married in the Church, there are parents whose spouse and children are Catholic and have been going to Mass for years… These are people who ‘feel’ part of the community already.
What I’ve realised is, whatever motives people have when they arrive, these are bound to change in some way during their process of conversion. A young mother who wants to become Catholic for her baby discovers that really this is something she is doing for herself, and that God has been drawing her along. The young couple who want to get confirmed before getting married discover the riches and beauty of life in the Church and want this to shape and anchor their new life together.
Whoever shows up at an enquiry session is at the threshold of a journey God is leading them on, whether they realise it or not. We have had people who set out feeling they understand the faith quite well and are fairly sure they want to become Catholic, only to be surprised and amazed further on into the process at the journey God is leading them on.
This is why RCIA is like a microcosm for our whole Christian life. Our amazement at God and His work can always be deepened and renewed.
It is wonderful when people have this self-awareness through their experience of life. Recently I met with two women who, as I explained the process with its stages and gave an insight into some of the liturgical steps along the way, and explained the role of the sponsor who will accompany them, each seemed really overjoyed to be setting out on this journey. They glimpsed, I think, that something beautiful lay ahead, although as yet, they had not received it, had not experienced it. Yet they were both aware that God had brought them to this point – to this threshold – and were excited to get going.
If only we could have this trust and abandonment and excitement at each new beginning in our lives… In these women I sensed their trust in the Church and the process they were giving themselves to – perhaps it is easier at the beginning, but I think we are always urged to keep abandoning ourselves to our Father, trusting that where He leads us will be for His plans of goodness for us.