I had the privilege of being a sponsor for an RCIA candidate at the Easter Vigil this year. My parish welcomed several individuals into the faith. Three received the sacrament of Baptism; others received First Communion and/or Confirmation. These adults provide such a powerful witness. They were excited and nervous prior to the ceremony and totally committed to what they were about to do.
I am a cradle Catholic. While I have learned intellectually about other faiths, I have never known anything else. I have certainly had times when I have struggled with sin in my life and my relationship with God has not been what it should be, but I have never been away from the faith. I never stopped going to Mass; I never stopped praying. My faith has been my strength in my darkest moments. I can’t imagine life without it; I wouldn’t want to. I consider this a blessing.
Yet, there is something to be said for the incredible decision these individuals have made. They chose the faith. They have studied for a year, considered the ramifications, and decided that the Catholic Church is something that they want to be a part of. The choice was not made for them, as it was for those of us brought up in the Catholic Church. The choice is theirs. They own it.
I do not know the stories that brought them to this day. I do not know how or when they first received the call to explore the Catholic faith; the struggles that they faced along the way; the opposition that they may have come up against. I do know that such a major life choice does not come easily. I also know that the path they have chosen is not an easy one. They have chosen “the road less traveled” and it will indeed “make all the difference” for them.
The world at large says that faith doesn’t matter; following the commandments doesn’t matter; going to Church doesn’t matter. Life is about doing what feels good at a given moment. Eternal life is rarely given more than a passing glance. These converts have decided that the world is wrong. They have chosen to make a public statement that they want to be different, to live differently.
Those of us who have always been Catholic can learn from these newest members of the Catholic faith. We can embrace their enthusiasm. These are people in love with the Catholic faith. They were so excited to receive the sacraments. While Baptism and Confirmation are one-time events, how often are we excited to receive Communion or go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Do we appreciate the miracles that we are so blessed to receive?
We can also make the choice to live fully Catholic lives. Even those of us raised in the faith need to make the adult decision to continue following it. It isn’t a one-time decision. These converts may feel that this is the end of one part of their journey – the culmination of study and discernment. Indeed, it is. It is a moment to be celebrated. But it is also a beginning. They have made the choice. They now must live their lives as Catholics. They have been called to a new way of living. Each one of us is called as well. Every day we must make the choice to be committed to our faith and to make decisions in keeping with that faith.
Please join me in welcoming and praying for all the new members of our Catholic faith. We are blessed to have them as part of our Church family!