So after after much consideration over the past year I had started RCIA in September. I have attended three Masses and three classes and I am loving everything about the Catholic Faith. I’ve read the Catechism, This is the Faith and am half-way through a short history of the Catholic Church. My reading of the Catechism came up in my third RCIA class. The fellow teaching that night started talking about how faith is more of a felt thing not a learned experience and then one of the other teachers turned to me and said I was reading into the Faith too much and needed to rely on my feelings. Then the other guy teaching that night launched into how he was probably beating a dead horse about my reading the Catechism but I need to feel the faith not read about it. I came home in tears. Reading the Catechism was a very hard but fulfilling thing for me and it felt like I was looked down upon for trying to read about the Catholic faith and not just trust my gut as it were. I don’t have a passionate, born again faith in God and never really have but I feel great comfort in learning about the Catholic faith and can believe based upon what I have read and understood. Is my faith wrong? Do I not have what it takes to be a Catholic? I’ve always thought the Catholic faith was more of a learned theological thing and not a born again christian feeling. I thought it was about learning and understanding and grasping for more than just a feeling. I’m so lost right now.
I can suggest a couple of things. First I suggest you schedule a private meeting with the RCIA leader to express that it is not appropriate to put people on the spot and criticize their zeal for, or approach to, their faith. It was embarrassing to you and it seemed that they were trying to tell you that you were “wrong”.
Your personal approach to the faith is not “wrong”. While they are correct that it is not strictly a “head thing” they are wrong in trying to put forth the idea it is solely at “heart thing”. It is both.
They are correct in that the Catholic faith is lived through the sacraments, liturgy, and community. There are relationships to build, and the faith can be experienced through those relationships, through the liturgy, through prayer and devotion. They are incorrect in discouraging you from pursuing your interest in theology, history, doctrine, etc.
You ought not neglect the development of your prayer life while focusing solely on the theology and academic aspects of the faith. Remember, the Catechism has 4 pillars, and prayer is one of them. Prayer is very important in developing that relationship with Christ an in growing in holiness.
They ought not neglect the doctrines. These are important and I certainly hope they will realize their mistake in their line of thinking. It is not either/or it is both/and.
Print out this and share it with them if you must. They are violating some basic boundaries in helping inquirers to feel comfortable and welcome. I say “shame on them”!!!
I agree with the advice the other poster gave.
I’m not a passionate person either. Faith requires the intellect and the heart. But also, having Faith requires a lot of one’s will. For example, a person can go to Confession. She/He may not ‘feel’ bad about the sins he/she confessed but what’s important is that they understand that they have sinned and have the resolve to sin no more. It would be hard to be a Catholic, if we always relied on our feelings.
There is nothing wrong with you. So chin up! And look into having a private meeting with the coordinator about this.
Do you think it may be a midwest thing? I’m not sure where you’re from… Kentucky? I’m in Oklahoma and there’s a bit of that same mindset towards almost any Christian religion more heart than brain. I don’t mean to put it down and I hope it doesn’t come across like that. I’m in RCIA as well and I feel blessed to have teachers that seem intent on teaching us the catechism from the books as well as from personal experience. I think the above poster is correct, go to your RCIA teacher in private and let them know that there is more than one path and for you, it might not be the exact same as theirs, but it isn’t wrong to want to learn and read about this.
As usual, 1ke has given good advice. I would like to add that if the RCIA director isn’t open to hearing about your concerns and addressing them then it would be time to meet with your priest.
Welcome Home. I’m praying for you.
Sorry that that happened to you. Forgive them for putting you on the spot. I’ll pray that
this problem is resolved.
The previous posters were right on with their views. Go for it.
As a wise man once said , foolishness.
Your faith is best learned and grown through challenging and study of our beloved Catholicism. Some RCIA directors may have somewhat of a closed and negative attitude towards your praised enthusiasm and drive to learn more. Maybe that is a threat to some but it should be celebrated.
God bless sharing this story and your courage in a unnecessary troubling time.
Thumbs up for the advice of 1ke
RCIA often causes these unfortunate issues. Satan is clearly at work to keep people from reaching full communion with the Church.
The great Doctor of the Church St. John of the Cross taught that one should never rely on the senses.
In fact, the greatest tribulation that many saints have faced at the peak of the path of perfection is the “dark night of the soul”, a temporal spiritual crisis in which God is entirely hidden and the soul is left in complete darkness, under the constant attack of temptations against faith. It is the ultimate trial of holiness, manifested by the expression of Christ on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"Consider this: for Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, this trial lasted for decades. For other saints, like Faustina Kowalska or Therese of Lisieux or John of the Cross, this trial lasted less.
Now, if these “teachers” stood right, and it was a matter of feelings, what should these saints have done the moment they stopped feeling God’s presence? The moment their entire self and all their senses were yelling at once: “there is no God”…?
The truth is that faith is a gift and that love is an act of will. Feelings are secondary, and misleading inasmuch as each of us has an imperfect nature and an imperfect conscience.
There was a time, long ago, when all the shepherds of Christianity gathered and wrote down the definitive Christian Profession of Faith, known today as the Nicene Creed, in which we read:
We believe in the Church, which is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
Around the year 250, St. Pionius wrote:
I am a Christian and belong to the Catholic Church. Would to God I could persuade all of you to become Christians
At the same time, Origen wrote:
Let no man deceive himself. Outside this house, that is, outside the Church no one is saved.
Around the year 400, the Doctor of the Church s. John Chrysostom wrote:
We know that salvation belongs to the Church alone, and that no one can partake of Christ nor be saved outside the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith.
All I am trying to do is to show you that there was a time in which the whole of Christianity was one and the same with the Catholic Church - the Catholic Church was the whole of Christianity.
So how can you possibly think that “you do not have what it takes” to belong to the church founded by Christ? I say to you that anyone who has brought such ideas in your mind should tremble from this very moment at the judgment of Christ impending upon them, and that it would be very advisable that you spend some prayer on their behalf, that the Lord may not impute this sin upon them.
Again, thumbs up for the advice of 1ke. I would go even further and talk to the Parrish priest about this issue, because the lay faithful directing the RCIA are under his authority.
Remember that “our enemies are not of flesh and blood”, and that there really is someone out there who does not want you to join the Catholic Church and partake of the most Holy Eucharist and of the other Sacraments instituted by Christ. We pray for you, and you should pray and attend Holy Mass often.
Have you been taught that at the moment of Holy Communion you may do an Act of Spiritual Communion? Many saints advised this, and you will be surprised at how eager will the Lord visit your soul spiritually at that moment, He who longs to give Himself to you in the mystical union of the Blessed Sacrament.
Pax Christi tecum!
I’m actually from Montana but my family has fondly referred to it as Montucky since my mother is a southerner.
I’ve seriously considered talking to them about it but I don’t want to sound like I think they’re teaching me the wrong way. I’ve been warmly welcomed by all and don’t want to set out on the wrong foot. The gal who runs RCIA was kinda the same way when I attended my first class. When I told her I had already started to read up on Catholicism and had just finished the Catechism she gave me this amazed look and said really and that she never had.
On a side note to 1ke I do my best to pray when I get up in the morning and before bed. I’ve firmly grasped the utmost importance of prayer in the Catholic lifestyle and that has been emphasized in class. Granted I read from the Liturgy of Hours for each day but I find that having a set thing to say helps me to remember to pray. Though in my rough spots I do pray my own words.
I’m starting to think that people are attracted to volunteering to instruct RCIA just so they can do it wrong on purpose!
Cradle Catholics tend to be quite complacent about our faith. I was one but never received confirmation and fell away for over 20 years, I’m a revert. For many cradle Catholics, they go through the motions and leave the rest to the priests, I guess…They don’t study the faith, they don’t understand the Mass, they just belong to the club. At least that is how they come across to me. If they hear you go to confession more than once a year (obligatory to go at least once a year), they raise their eyebrows and say, “Why?” If you get a Missal, they think you are trying to pretend to be saintly.
Faith is not feelings. As the others have said, if you only have feelings to propel you toward God, what happens when the feelings change? Or disappear? No, we need solid teaching as well as faith. Your teachers were wrong to mock you that way.
Well, that’s a big problem in my book. Seriously, how can you be running the program without proper formation? But, well, I guess it happens.
I’m sure they didn’t mean to embarrass you or hurt your feelings. I hope you will not be discouraged by this but will instead continue on your path and ignore well meaning, but wrongheaded, people you meet along the way. None of us is perfect.
CaptFun replies (point by point) in RED
I would also add that if for some reason the coordinator is not supportive after you speak with the person, and if after speaking with the priest there is not change to your satisfaction (let’s pray that there will be sufficient support!), you may want to join an RCIA program elsewhere.
Unfortunately sometimes there are well-intention but ill-formed volunteers. If that’s the case, it may be best to seek out better teachers at a different location. A year is a long time to have to endure weak teachers.
CaptFun responds in RED
(continued due to me being verbose :p)
I’ve always thought the Catholic faith was more of a learned theological thing and not a born again christian feeling. AH! It can be both! If you are strong in one thing and your teachers think you are fighting another good thing that you might have - maybe their counsel could be charitable - although from what you describe maybe not. But for yourself, don’t deny yourself the JOY of being in Christ’s love to your own detriment. There were “reformers” like Calvin that made Christianity seem like it must be a gloomy thing, a cross at all times, with a cultural (if not doctrinal) suspicion of anything pleasurable as being sinful. If you were raised with that sort of “style” the good news is “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say ‘rejoice’”.
I thought it was about learning and understanding and grasping for more than just a feeling. You do put that well - as a matter of priorities - ShopkeMoe; although others DO begin with feelings and progress ON to where you are now, learning of Jesus via the Catechism, etc.
I’m so lost right now. Now THAT’S a FEELING! And it might NOT be factually true. Feeling lost is something that happened to great saints sometimes. Considering what you are doing, I don’t think you are lost at all. You may be enduring something that you shouldn’t have to - but if it is a price you must pay for the pearl of great price and receiving the astounding graces and gifts of the Church - you are wise to hang in there.
Being lost is not the same as being on a journey. You seem to know where you are going … though you may have hit an unexpected detour or confusing road signage.
I will say this. Some people who are determined to teach the faith - will, like the Pharisees, elevate their own notions into “their class” into the “must be taught” category,
and possibly view the Catechism, dogma, etc. especially those teachings they themselves are struggling with - as threats to what they want to do (besides helping you complete your RCIA training and be fully received into the Church).
My Mad magazine analogy (in my part 1 post) may have been a bit catty (though I enjoyed its wit and possibly positive effect) - a better one, if challenged as you were, would be to (with GREAT emotion - joy would be good considering the ‘charge’ against you) …
… *** extol the beauty of one of your favorite insights from the Catechism. :clapping::dancing::extrahappy: ***
Then maybe your classmates and the teachers may get a hunger for exploring it more! WHICH would be GOOD!
Thanks for writing this, your humility, sensitivity, and example. I think I’ll go read MY Catechism today because of you!
I went to these rcia classes and honestly did not learn much about the catholic faith.
The classes left me with too many unanswered questions because they only covered basics.
I took in upon myself to read everything I could about the catholic religion and Jesus Christ.
I wanted to know the history behind the religion. This has actually increased my faith.
So, good for you - you have done nothing wrong
Or change the faith into something they are more “cooommmfortable” with.
One of the sad things I remember from our young adult ministry was that the more orthodox folks who knew the faith were often doing other good things and could not be leaders in our ministry. EXTREMELY hard working, efficient but unorthodox (theologically) folks were always clamoring to lead - and you could pretty much depend upon them taking the floor to grind the axe about ***whatever they didn’t agree with *** regarding the Church.
It was hard to keep them out of power because they did some things very well, WERE available, and were determined to lead when there was a leadership void due to numbers or something.
Sometimes their spirit is actually good - though they are factually wrong. They feel "the Church is pretty good - except for these things "***- and those things ***then tend to top their personal agendas of ***what must be taught first ***when they lead.
I HAVE seen what you are talking about though Allegra. You are not wrong. More often I see people who are Catholic “light” and preach their “lightness” as a higher priority than their “Catholicism”.
Meanwhile it’s good to remember that “the enemy” is always trying to disrupt the conversion of people and confuse the Church. :hmmm: If even St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John and St. James got rebuked by Jesus for getting things wrong - we should be humble enough to examine whether what we teach is of the Holy Spirit – and not an indulgent airing of our human feelings which have nothing to do with the salvation of souls. :shrug::dts:
Hey great point, took the words right out of my mouth. Beware of the sheep in wolves clothing as this RCIA might fit into that category.
You, lucky, lucky person. To be able to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, in love and appreciation for this gift from the Holy Spirit. (Source, Chapter 14, Gospel of John.)
That’s probably one of the biggest challenges the Church has to overcome.
I’ve been nominally a Catholic for many years, but it’s only recently that I’ve actually started to study what Catholicism teaches.