It’s the community that initiates

Sometimes, when we are pressured to provide a religion of absolutes straight out of the Catechism; sometimes, when candor, actual experience, and the importance of involving ordinary people in the RCIA is pooh-poohed; sometimes, when the community is not taken seriously as the most basic agent of evangelization; sometimes, when the catechumenate is seen as a vehicle for the teacher rather than a common project of the whole parish… the witness of people like Anja Habekost Oliveira is enough to make me want to stand up and cheer.

Writing in the Catholic Herald, UK, her story is entitled: I converted to Catholicism after being surprised by what Catholics were actually like.

She came to the RCIA on “a fact-finding mission” because her husband wanted their children to go to a Catholic school. She ended up staying and becoming Catholic herself. How did this happen?

Here are a few quotes:

I expected to find a cliquey, self-absorbed group of elderly nuns and priests handing out rules I was supposed to live by. I expected to be met with blind denial of the child abuse scandal that was raging at the time, and I definitely expected no discussion of the Catholic “absolutes” regarding homosexuality, contraception and celibacy for men in the cloth.

But what I found was humility and an honest willingness to debate how the Church and its doctrines fit into the modern world. At one of the first meetings the priest in session asked: “No contraception? Is it really doable? Do people really live by it?” Rather than preaching blind acceptance, we were invited to examine the historical and philosophical reasoning behind the traditions, and it all made so much more sense.

… Catholics have been accused of a sense of dogmatic holiness that puts everyone who is not in the fold to shame. What I found was a group of people who know that they constantly fail at reaching the high standards they set for themselves, but who try their best.

It’s the community that initiates. Keep doing your stuff, People of God. Finding out what you are “really like” is what persuades others that they want to join this Church of ours.

Thank goodness for the RCIA, which provides a forum for this to happen, as well as a means to celebrate and bring God’s good work to fulfillment.

You can read the whole story here.

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