I met with Sr. Mary who runs RCIA. Sometimes I thinks she thinks I’m crazy. But I have to give her some credit, it is very difficult to know someone with only maybe six hours of interaction spread out over six months. That’s kind of the way our situation is. I look at her and I think she is amazed, confused, and unsure of me. She knows I feel very deeply, think very deeply, but can also have a very pessimistic and silly outlook and understanding. Like maybe she thinks I think becoming Catholic is some kind of joke, not that serious, and not that big of a deal. Yes and no. I do see it as serious. I wouldn’t be writing all this if I didn’t think it was serious. I wouldn’t even be trying. I wouldn’t be thinking, waiting, or discerning.
Today, she kept asking me about what I get out of RCIA and daily Mass. It’s kind of funny, because I feel like there is this movement in “Catholic training” to experience God almost in the sense of Protestanty “personal relationship with God.” And I see that as happening in RCIA with the catechumens. Listening to God and the experience. While I emphasize the community—togetherness and the beauty of that. That’s my draw, the community, how the community speaks the word of God, and not just me sitting and listening and reading my Bible by myself.
This is beautiful to me.
Not all Protestanty evangelical churches are all about the “personal relationship with God.” There are plenty of closer to Catholic interdependence (episcopal, lutheran, i.e. those following a lectionary). And perhaps I could go to one of those, but no. Rome and I are going on six years together, and I practically feel raised here.
Sr. Mary said how it would be a shame to find out a year from now that I don’t want to be Catholic. I had not really considered this. Well, yes, I have in the form of the question, “Where else would I go?” When I run, I run to the Catholic church. But I hadn’t really considered, “In what scenario would I not go to or avoid the Catholic church?” Assuming I am confirmed….
It would hurt if something happened to my relationship, that might make me avoid the Catholic church. But I didn’t get involved because of him. He’s supportive, but I do plenty of Catholicy things he doesn’t do. It would be more hurtful if the Church made some substantial changes that I really couldn’t deal with, that would hurt more. And, let’s be real, this happens in churches all the time. They are human institutions, with human failures.
I could decide to be a minister or priest somewhere else. I don’t think I want that. There isn’t anything pulling me anywhere else. Part of me is open to work for any church. Actually, I told my mom how great it was to go to Mass after preaching—no responsibility. Maybe that’s who I am. I need a community to work and one to rest.
“Fully committing to the Catholic church.” That is the phrase Sr. Mary used. Like I’m not enough already… I’m not sure I know what she means, and I’m not sure I would agree with her, or maybe we would agree. For me…
Fully committing doesn’t mean never ever going to another church again.
Fully committing doesn’t mean working to convert all the Protestants.
Fully committing doesn’t mean never taking communion anywhere else ever again.
Fully committing doesn’t mean I’m right and they’re wrong.
Fully committing doesn’t mean all the gays are going to hell and contraception is from Satan.
Fully committing doesn’t mean that any host of Catholicy things that Catholics don’t even adhere to…….
Is it not obvious? Well, that obviously gives away the type of Catholic I’m going to be. Not the good kind, but instead, an above average kind that actually goes to Mass.
Every person I know who has gone either way, Catholic to Protestant, or Protestant to Catholic, or whatever to whatever (barring legit cults), seems to feel the same way: Free. It’s not easy to go either way. To cross the threshold of difference and otherness. Maybe transcend? Transform? Convert? To change. Whoa.
In some ways, being Protestant is much more difficult than being Catholic. And becoming Catholic is much more difficult than becoming Protestant.
In my experience, Protestants expect you to do something at church: lead, mission, communicate, hang out, go to small groups, etc etc etc. Catholics—just show up to Mass. Catholics go through a rigorous annual process to becoming Catholic (RCIA, confirmation and all that).
Protestants: You believe? You’re pretty much in. I know some groups have a confirmation process, but you still get to do and be a part of all that the church does and life without confirmation in a Protestant church.
I like both! I want both! I know that you can have both at both, but it doesn’t seem to naturally turn out that way because of historical grudges.