Every one of us who is passionate about the treasure that is the Catholic Faith has encountered moments of difficulty when attempting to unlock the door to this treasure for another human soul. There are varying levels of difficulty depending on where any particular individual is on the path to their journey to God and to reality. I am referring here to each one or us, as well as the person God presents to us. After such difficulties, we often find ourselves replaying the scenario that transpired in our minds. “I should have said this. I should have said that.” Sometimes we are painfully aware that we are not sure what we should have said or what was the most effective way to say it. For those of us who are catechists or support members of an RCIA team (the Church’s process for assisting adults who are exploring the Catholic Faith, considering becoming a Catholic, and/or never received Communion or Confirmation), we can find ourselves in this state of unrest at any point in the process most particularly when we get into the divisive and polarizing issues of our time. Though we do need to remember that it is God’s grace and a soul’s cooperation with that grace that ultimately unlocks the door to the treasure, there is no denying the fact that effective and timely words and actions on our part can make a radical difference. It is also important to note that it is oftentimes we, ourselves, that need better understanding in any one particular area of our Faith.
The goal of this column is to assist all adult Catholics in more powerfully and effectively communicating the treasure that is the Catholic Faith both in your RCIA programs and in your every day encounters with family, friends, and acquaintances as well as that random stranger that God places on your path. These tips will be applicable regardless of the faith background and/or world view of the person you are presented with.
Those of you who are involved in, thinking about becomig involved in, or know someone who is involved in RCIA, read on.
My paramount goal in working this column, is to share the secret of our very successful RCIA program and make a radical difference in how RCIA programs are conducted, particularly in the U.S. Unfortunately, too many programs are not nearly as effective as they should be. Many RCIA programs “lose their people” after they have received their Sacraments at Easter and rarely see them at Mass again. This happens, in large part, because they have not been given substance or the Truth. Too many teams make a deliberate choice to shy away from the teachings of our Faith, oftentimes because they themselves are not convinced or comfortable with some, or all of the teachings. They tend towards bringing a “politically correct” mindset into the process along with a false sense of ecumenism (the Catholic Faith is just “one of many ways” to God). Tragically, all too often, a good number of students are fed partial or total error, doing all involved a great disservice. Whether it is because of these factors, or because an earnest team is at a loss for the best way to “get the job done,” many catechumens and candidates are received into the Church with little understanding of the life transforming treasure that is the Catholic Faith.
I plan to share the secret of the dynamics and structures that we built into our RCIA program, where absences are rarely, if ever, an issue (despite a weekly Sun 9AM Mass commitment followed by an additional hour-and-a-half of catechesis and discussion, from Oct-June) and where, by the time we deal with the polarizing issues of our day, our students are open vessels because they are standing on solid ground! I will share the secret of why they trust what we are saying and, far from resisting, light bulbs are going off and many of them find themselves on the opposite side of these issues for the first time in their experience. Most of the time, it is because they have never heard the facts on the side of objective Truth and they almost universally become exhilarated. I want to share the secret of how we have even developed things to a point where, if they are still uncomfortable, we “scoop them right up” and they are very quickly back on track.
Finally, I plan to share the secret that keeps our students coming thru the end of the year, typically quite sad that the classes are over, sometimes coming back again in the Fall, often joining our team and/or getting involved in some kind of Church work, raising strong Catholic kids and, most importantly, effectively evangelizing themselves! The bottom line: The Truth works and there are effective ways to transmit it to others!
It is my prayer that the readers of this column will become exhilarated themselves, as they learn to more powerfully fulfill the will of the Christ “to make disciples of all nations.” A broken world needs your help. Let our journey begin!
2009 Peggy Clores