Throughout this holy season of Lent, our Lord tries to teach us about conversion. He drives home the necessity of making changes in our lives in a very radical and public way. So whom does He set before us as models of this kind of radical conversion? He gives us our beloved RCIA candidates and catechumens.
Not long ago these men and women, and even many children, came to our community and shared with us the good news – “I’m thinking about becoming Catholic.” They entered into the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) or the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC) and began to meet here regularly for an intense process of prayer, study, and discernment.
No small sacrifice was required. In addition to the time commitment, many people who go through RCIA face an intense inner struggle. Their deepest beliefs and values are tested – along often with their patience and spiritual stamina. There is a lot to spiritually digest and for many there are moments when it is simply overwhelming. Still they persevere in the struggle.
They are the ones on whom we fix our eyes in this holy season. It is as if our Lord sets them in front of us and says, “Look at these people. See their commitment and willingness to endure the test? See the pains they take to forsake their old identity and ways of life to turn more fully to Me? This is what I want. Imitate them.” Nativity of Mary needs these new souls even more than they need us.
Within the season of Lent we celebrate with those who will be received into the Church special rites known as the scrutinies. These rites are intended to spiritually strengthen those on the journey and to help them to search their minds and their hearts.
Again, these RCIA candidates serve as models for us. We as a parish need continually to scrutinize our collective hearts. If by next Lent we find no one among us here at Nativity of Mary who says, “I want to be Catholic,” then we have lost that visible sign that grace is bearing fruit among us and that God is renewing us.
We need them. We thank God for their presence among us. I pray that we all can know the same radical conversion and spiritual renewal.