I’m looking for some suggestions on a situation I’m really struggling with. Quick background: I was baptized Catholic but raised outside of the Church. For quite some time, I was on a long journey of prayer and study. I had a lot of questions that needed to be answered, and I was blessed to find quality apologetics that, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, provided those answers.
Last Fall, I joined my local parish and entered RCIA. After a few weeks, I realized that my level of faith formation was such that I believed there was no reason I shouldn’t be allowed to receive my first Reconciliation and Eucharist. I made an appointment to speak with my Priest about it. He grilled me with common questions and found me to be satisfactorily knowledgable. He told me that once we were able to resolve the issue of my marriage, he would allow me to receive the Sacraments, as long as I would still attend RCIA.
My wife is also a baptized Catholic who was raised outside of the Church, but she is not yet prepared to join the Church. She is very supportive of me, however. In order to make our marriage licit we received a sanation. During this time, we worked with a second priest, who is more involved in our RCIA program. When I went to his office to sign the sanation paperwork, I noticed that it had wording to the effect of “…and I hereby accept the prescribed penance.” I signed and asked him what my penance would be. He told me that my penance was to wait to receive the Eucharist until the rest of the RCIA class did, at the Easter Vigil.
As you might suspect, I was not pleased with this. Frankly, I felt as if I’d been bamboozled. I’ve dealt with this for the last two weeks in silence, accepting my penance. But the more I think about it, the harder it is for me to accept. I was raised in a Christian environment. More importantly, I fully understand and accept all Catholic doctrine, and demostrated as much to the priest. This is not simply an excercise in patience, this is the essence of our Faith being denied to me, even though I am fully prepared and, I believe entitled to receive it. I feel as if they are improperly dangling a carrot over my head for no good reason. Yes, I understand the Easter Vigil is only a couple months away, but what if something happens to me in the meantime? This is a very serious issue.
I don’t want to stir up any trouble, but I’m really finding this “penance” difficult to accept.