I thought an exorcism involved lashings of holy water burning the skin of a tainted sinner, destined for the fiery pits of hell. I had no idea that it could be considered a blessing, nor did I know that the prayers said during an exorcism are some of the most beautiful, sweet offerings of hope and love poured out for all manner of people, not just those who are deemed to be of ‘sin’.
Such is my naivety and just one of the many lessons I have learnt over the past few weeks as I attended the Rite of Christian Initiation Course with Sr Louise Gannon and Fr Andrew Doohan, both of whom make a Sunday afternoon of study a pleasure to attend as they inform and entertain us with their knowledge, wisdom and very, very clever banter!
I accepted the invitation to attend these sessions because I wanted to be further of service and I had hoped that by learning more about the Rite, I could see the possibilities and potential of my calling in another way. I fell in love… and when you fall in love and stay in love, God will decide everything. It’s an incredibly beautiful place to be.
Firstly, through Sr Louise’s gentle guidance, my colleagues and I embarked on regular mystagogical reflections. Our eyes were opened to the Word with not only a greater sense of clarity but with an enlightenment that revealed the goodness of God through the scriptures, watching as He unveiled Himself to us all in different ways. Recalling, reflecting and bonding with the scriptures, exploring the connections between liturgy, faith and life, I felt a closeness to Christ that I am only just beginning to marvel at. I learnt to love Sunday afternoons! A session of learning about the Rite may not seem an ideal way of spending your time but it’s been a joy, and my “Sunday arvo’s” will never be the same.
As the weeks progressed we continued our journey of discovery of the beautiful processes that we, as the faithfully baptised, help to form lifelong disciples by walking with the Seekers as they encounter Christ in their own way.
The journey that a Seeker makes is so personal, and may take as long as needed, however, it is certainly one that is not travelled alone. Accepting and believing takes time, and we do not often allow ourselves time to break open what Jesus is teaching us or how that lesson might look in parish and family life, or within the wider community. Speaking of which, the process is a community whereby all the community of the faithful become a part of the Seeker’s journey of falling ‘in love’. I do have to question this…. How many of our parishes are embracing the process of the community walking with our Seeker? How, if at all, is the Rite practiced within our parish communities, making the Seeker’s formation a priority? How are we building the kingdom together?
And so, as I thank God for Sr Louise and Fr Andrew, for the candid discussions, gentle prayer and mystagogy and the laughter along the way, may I offer to you all a prayer taken from the Rite; a petition directly addressed to God as we all strive to reach His blessed kingdom:
“In your love you have formed these your servants; in your mercy you have called them and received them. Probe their hearts today and watch over them as they look forward to the coming of your son. Keep them in your providence and complete in them the plan of your love. Through their loyalty to Christ may they be counted among his disciples on earth and be acknowledged by him in heaven.”
When you find a language and space that brings our faith to life, it’s a wonderful choice to be making. I extend the following invitation: probe your heart, reach out to your parish and find out what is happening in the RCIA space, show your loyalty, offer your time and help others to discuss God’s providence. You may find the work of the church is calling on you the RITE way.
Image by Aaron Burden- Unsplash