When official RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) started, I think I was well on my way to knowing I was going to be Catholic. And a lot of it was review in the first bit because it gave basis of Christianity in general. My sponsor was K and sometimes my one roommate would come with us too because she was a cradle Catholic and thought it would be good for her as well. I think one of the thoughts that I had through it was that it felt like such a long process. RCIA wasn't a one class deal, but a good year of instruction, and it was hard to be patient. I was often jealous of K's easier return through confession ordeal.
Along side of doing RCIA, I was in my second year of grad school which meant qualifiers and teaching lab to the freshman on top of normal classes and attempting to do research in the lab. It was a lot even at that. So why not add more, right? Because I did. K proposed in late September and I added marriage prep and wedding planning to the mess of everything already happening in my life. I want to say that I handled it gracefully, but there were a lot of tears shed and it was rough stress wise. I ended up at my thinnest during this time and had a mouth load of cavities, because for some reason with stress goes my teeth.
But I was happy to be marrying K and I was happy to be growing in my faith, I even liked creating my qualifier projects, but it was a lot to be doing at once. Maybe I should have slowed down just a bit, but then this story wouldn't have been what it is.
There were the normal steps along the way in RCIA, the Right of Acceptance, and the Right of Election. I did not really enjoy the first one because I remember it made me feel very vulnerable and exposed, and I think I wasn't quite ready for that. But maybe this should have also been a sign of my introversion to me, whatever it was, it was a bit uneasy for me. I did however enjoy the Rite of Election where every Catholic that was converting or coming into full communion with the church met together for the Rite. It made me feel like I was part of something so much greater than myself, and it gave a sense of the universality of the Church.
Looking back I think the one take away from RCIA that happened was the one day the parish priest talked about how conversion worked. How in each facet approached we go through first an intellectual conversion than and emotional one and then a spiritual conversion. I think through most of RCIA and early Catholic days I was still in the intellectual conversion. I think we have to wrap our minds around things first to even grasp what lies ahead for us, and then if you are me and tend to overthink most things it takes a while for the rest to happen. Maybe this is why I am not a charismatic Catholic.
I feel like Catholics get a lot of flack for something such as confession, but if you remember that I struggled with accountability within my Protestant walk. So even though I was nervous for my first confession, it felt like one of the most natural things to do, despite having to recount 23 years of sin. That was hard, I think I wrote down at least a couple pages of things. But the idea of confession agrees with me, it feels like a checking point to say you are human, and you screw up but also to say I want to do better and grow deeper and to do better I need to truly say where I've been and not in just a half hazard way that I was used to doing. Its hard to admit you screw up but to know that grace covers you and Jesus gives you countless opportunities to start new again, that is amazing. Maybe there was something about these outward signs of grace that were pulling me closer to Jesus in ways I couldn't even understand at the time.
Part 1 can be found here.
Part 5 can be found here.