Posts Tagged ‘rcia’

Confession, for real

It’s a confession about confession! Ha!  I haven’t written much about RCIA lately, but that is because there hasn’t been much to share or much I’m willing to share.  But last night’s class was attending the reconciliation service.  I am going to admit that I haven’t been to confession for about 15 years.  It was about this time that I didn’t feel a connection with the church and didn’t regularly attend mass.  And you know, it’s hard to get back into going to confession because that good Catholic guilt about NOT going gets to you and you just put it off and put it off some more.  And, as I’ve said before, I have issues with being vocal about my faith.  So it felt weird to want to go to confession and either tell T that I was going or to hire a babysitter to go.  But last night was part of RCIA, and I’m not one to be neglectful of commitments.  Receiving reconciliation wasn’t a requirement yet for T and the other candidates, but everyone else, of course, was welcome to participate.  I decided that I would just get over my fear and guilt and do it.

As I stood in line I kept thinking about the things I could say.  I kept thinking of the same types of things.  I had nothing MAJOR to confess, even after 15 years.  Yes, I have my faults, and I talked to the priest about those, including my absence from church.  And you know what? I cried.  Not sobbing, mind you, but the tears came.  But they weren’t tears of sadness.  When I walked back to the pew where T was sitting, he asked me if everything was okay.  “Yes, I am good.”  I was experiencing a release of emotion.  And it was good.

One of the details of the ceremony at our church is that after confession you pick an ornament from one of many baskets to decorate the tree on the alter.  I had never noticed when the tree became glittery with ornaments or why it was so.  But now I know.  The symbolism is strong that now (after receiving reconciliation) is a time for joy and celebration of the season.

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Thank Goodness!

Thank Goodness! Thursdays

So my good friend, Lissa has started a new carinval.  (She’s cool and smart enough to know how to make buttons and redesign her own blog and stuff, unlike other people. Hey! Quit looking at me!)

I think this a fantastic idea and I’m going to play along.

So this week, I say Thank Goodness for my husband.  If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t be taking this crazy journey of faith with him through RCIA.  I have a whole post I want to do on the subject after our meeting tonight, but since it’s late (and T has been home for less than 24 hours after being gone for 6 days), I’m going to go spend some time with him and enjoy the fact that he’s got a 3-day weekend and we get to spend time together.

Dark and Twisty – Part 2 (The clarification)

I know what some of you are thinking.  “Oh, good gawd, girl, can there be any more?”  Well, yes there can be, but I’m not in that sad spot anymore.  But I do want to clarify a few things from the last post that was written with tears brimming in my eyes and angst in my heart.

So, first.  I love my friends – all of them.  When I stated that there are only a few that actually reside in my heart, that doesn’t diminish the other relationships I do have.  I very much enjoy the company of those I call friends and I care about them and their daily struggles and triumphs.  I genuinely care.  I also know that I have used this blog as journal and put out all the dark and twisty parts of me that I wouldn’t normally expose to the world.  But you know what I’ve found about the internets and this bloggy world?  They are friends I have made that I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Friends who also bare their souls in an attempt to gain better understanding of themselves or to look for some hope that they aren’t alone.  I can’t find fault in this.  I only see the light.

So, let’s take a detour for a minute.  (Remember, my blog, my stream of consciousness.)  Last night at RCIA we were talking The Holy Trinity.  You know, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  We had a speaker for each part of the Trinity.  The first was our associate pastor who is from Mexico and maybe mid to late 20s.  He spoke about God, The Father.  He spoke of patience and hope and forgiveness and all things related to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  (Holy moly! I just quoted the bible!)  So that had me thinking about my patience with relationships and my hope with relationships and forgiveness in my relationships.  Then our former pastor spoke about Jesus, the Savior.  The one thing he said that stood out to me was that you just have to say “yes” to Jesus.  (I will be honest, I’m freaking myself out a bit here with all this religion talk!)  Yes to how Jesus wants us to live.  To be open to those around us, to care, to love, and that the path you take is the path you were meant to take.

All of this applies to the angst I had been feeling.  I questioned in the beginning before I instigated a confrontation whether or not this was the right choice.  I wrote about those feelings in that first post back on September 19th.  I wrote this:

I question myself sometimes.  I question whether my feelings are valid to be voiced.  I question whether I will be respected after I speak my mind.  I question if speaking my mind makes me unlovable to those who I care for the most.  I question whether my voice NEEDS to be heard.

And for some reason, my gut (or maybe my heart) is telling me that this concept needs to be revisited.  That I question whether or not I hurt those I care for in the process of trying to find peace with the situation.  I have apologized to one.  There is part of me that feels the need to have hope that if given the chance I will apologize for transgressions I may have unknowingly caused.  Because that is what started this whole debacle.  Words that were not meant to hurt but which did hurt.  I am probably at fault here too.  This post is to say that I acknowledge my part.  It takes two to tango, right?

Things just feel unsettled, and I’m hoping that those involved can accept my genuine apology and that they can move on to a better place with me.  Because I will be waiting for an embrace of love and forgiveness.

Religion

I’ve mentioned that T is going through the process to convert to Catholicism.  The program is called RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).  Every week I seem to be comforted by something I hear.  T and I usually have a little chat on the way home from the meeting.  The last two weeks our pastor has been giving us a bit of an overview on the bible – New and Old Testaments.

I was raised Catholic, but I wouldn’t say that we were a religious family.  We attended mass weekly, my brother and I went through CCD (religious education) through our sophomore year of high school.  But we didn’t really do anything outside of mass that spoke to me of religion.  We didn’t read the bible.  We didn’t pray before meals.  We didn’t really talk about God or Jesus.

Unfortunately, I have a negative connotation to those who read the bible regularly.  I have never enjoyed being “preached” at.  I have never liked it when someone tries to “convert” me by telling me their “saving” story or about their relationship to God. It felt contrived.  If someone said “I’ll pray for you”, it felt like an insult.  Like somehow I was obviously weak and couldn’t handle things.  (Have I mentioned I have a deep sense of pride, and it’s hard for me to accept help – even when I need it?)    I have always felt that my belief in God was my own and that your beliefs were your own and we didn’t need to discuss them.  Granted, I never felt confident in my ability to talk about the bible.  We always discussed bible stories in CCD, but they never stuck with me.  I never felt connected to them.  So maybe I was just insecure and didn’t want to seem ignorant.

I also have always connected those who “preach the bible” with negativity.  I’m not sure I explain that sentiment.  I have rarely felt preached at while at church.   I have always felt a comfort within the Catholic church that what was being preached was kindness and respect.  (I know that the Catholic Church has rules that don’t jive with this.  There isn’t equality between men and women.  There isn’t respect for homosexual relationships.  But I have never witnessed negativity in this regard.) I high school I remember there was a lot of talk of that phrase ” What would Jesus do?”  I openly mocked this concept.  It seemed silly to me, simplistic.  Kind of life Nancy Reagan’s campaign to “Just Say No.”  But there is so much truth to that phrase.  Jesus was a man who didn’t turn people away.  He did all he could to help other people.  He was kind to the outcasts of society.  Do you think he would have turned away from gay people?  He certainly didn’t shun the prostitutes and the lepers.

Last night after class I asked our pastor about the Crusades.  Saying the time of the Crusades was not a peaceful time is an understatement.  I specifically asked how does the Church justify the crusades within the teachings of Jesus.  His response was honest.  He said that nothing can justify the Crusades.  They happened at a point in history where the church was very corrupt and was run more like an empire.  He also said that because the majority of the population at that time was illiterate that the common man only had what they were told to go on.  So when a priest/politician said you are going to do this in the name of the church because we think we need to overpower those who don’t believe in Jesus, the general population didn’t think to object.

Another thing he said last week was that when people started to break out from Catholicism and form new churches, it was usually as a result of corruption within the church.  The groups that pulled away were looking to get back to the root of Christianity and away from the corruption.

It also comforts me that my pastor and others who have dedicated their life to the church openly admit that they don’t know all the answers.  This may seem silly.  Of course no one has all the answers to questions that are based on FAITH and mysteries.  But as a child, I didn’t question those in authority.  If someone played a role of authority in my life, I let them lead. So the thought that the adults in my life were much smarter that they could have ever been!  I guess that’s why sometimes I have feelings of being a fraud as an adult because I feel like I don’t have a flippin’ clue about what I’m doing!  I’m just winging it and hoping for the best.

Every week in class they ask us a question to discuss amongst ourselves in small groups.  Last night’s question was why do you do things for other people?  Do you do it because you think it will get you into heaven?  Do you do it because you want people to acknowledge you with pats on the back?  Do you do it because it’s the right thing to do?  Do you do it because you think you should?  Okay, that was more than one questions, but it got me to thinking.  Why do I do the things I do for other people.  Mostly it’s because I follow my heart and try to do what I think is best for the involved parties.  Do I like pats on the back?  Heck yeah.  Everyone needs to feel appreciated for what they do, but that is not my motivator.  Have I ever done things thinking, “ok, if I do this then God will be happy”?  I can’t say that I’ve ever thought that.  Maybe in the karmic sense of it.   I always get extra nice while driving right before I have a road trip.  I call it “car karma”.  If I put it out there that I’m being kind to other drivers (i.e. letting them cut in front of me, leaving space for someone to make a left-hand turn while stopped at a red light), that maybe I won’t get stuck behind all the big semis and slow drivers.

Sometimes we can get caught up in the busy-ness of the day-to-day life and forget to smell the roses along the way or forget that other people have busy lives too and maybe they are having a bad day and we should be kind.  I’m guilty of that as much as the next person.  But I try to remember that I’m not the only person living in this world that matters.

So, how’s this for a deep post for a Friday?

RCIA (What I learned this week)

(So I’m using this as my post to join in Jo-Lynne’s carnival

For those of you who don’t know, I am what is called a “cradle Catholic”.  I was born into Catholicism and grew up immersed in it.  I took a break from church for about 5 or 6 years, and now I’m back.  All three girls have been baptized and SmartyPants made her First Communion last spring.  We go to mass once a week (unless we are out of town).  For the past 4 years or so Traveler has talked about going through the process to become Catholic.  He was baptized Episcopalian and during his early childhood years his family attended a Lutheran church.  I never pushed him to convert.  (And to me that word has a negative connotation.)  He talked about it when we lived in Idaho, but we didn’t feel comfortable with how some things were run in the local parish there.  When we moved here, he talked about it a bit more, but because of all the traveling he was doing he couldn’t commit to the weekly meetings.  Last Thursday was our third night of classes.  I’m going too as I will be his sponsor.  (A sponsor is sorta like a godparent.  They support you through the process and they are kind of life your “go-to” person if you have a question or want to dialogue with someone about something you are being taught.)  In being his sponsor I thought I’d get a lot out of the class too.  Or at least I would learn more about the way Catholicism is practiced in our parish.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I really like our parish here.   The head priest is big into social justice issues and I don’t think I’ve ever hear him say anything about abortion that didn’t include remembering that we need to protect ALL life including the mother’s.  Which is huge to me, and I may go into more depth at another time about this.  But knowing that the head honcho of the church I go to cares about doing right by people and by his call to God means something to me.

Anyway, RCIA – Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  Part of the reason I’m writing this is because I have a feeling I’m going to be more comfortable with my religion (not my faith, I’m pretty comfortable with it at this point in my life).  Take for instance last night.  We were talking about different words that have been used to describe God/Jesus, and then we were asked to help find passages in the Bible that make references to how God/Jesus was perceived.  The leader of the RCIA program is a deacon.  He was actually the one who baptized SmartyPants 8+ years ago.  One of the words that came up was “father”.  Because most people think of God as a father figure.  We live in a patriarchal world, so it isn’t a surprise that “we” view God as a father.  But Deacon Bob pointed out that some people didn’t have a positive father figure in their life and they have difficulty wrapping their brain around how a father figure could be kind/compassionate, etc.  So he showed us two parts in the bible that associate God with a nurturing mother.  So what I was hearing from this conversation was that I (or anyone else) felt that thinking of God as a mother figure instead of a father figure made more sense to us, that was okay.

So, night one of “lecture” gave me more comfort in my perceived strictness within Catholicism.  My parish doesn’t feel that things are black and white.  This thrills me because life isn’t black and white.  I am looking forward to learning more and going through this process with T.