I began the RCIA process several months ago. While I felt very drawn to Catholicism at first, as time has gone on, I find that I am having some problems accepting some of the Church’s teachings in regard to marriage, as well as letting go of my previous (polytheist) beliefs. As it stands, while I want to be a Catholic, and those Catholics I know have a faith and belief that I hope to have someday, I don’t feel like I am yet in communion with the Church — I might be later on, but I’m not right now. My RCIA group has been nothing but helpful and has answered all of my questions and then some. I’m just not there yet.
Here’s my problem: We’re approaching the Rite of Election, as well as baptism, first communion and confirmation. I am feeling very, very uncomfortable continuing with the process at this time, given my personal difficulties. I feel as if it would be extremely disrespectful and dishonest, if not outright sacrilegious, to participate in these steps at this point in time.
Am I wrong in this? Should I grit my teeth and continue, and hope that stronger faith will come later? Or should I bring up my reservations with my RCIA leaders now and bow out, and then return when I feel more ready?
Talk to the leaders of the RCIA program personally. Tell them you do not feel it would be right to take these steps at this time. They will understand. The vows converts make are very serious, and you should not make them now if your conscience balks.
Even if you do not progress toward baptism right now, you may still be able to participate in some of the RCIA classes and such as a continuing inquirer. Ask about that too, if you’re interested.
Many people stay in RCIA for a few years, or go away and come back later. Not everyone is ready right away. That’s OK. I hope you will continue your investigation.
Firstly, I would like to thank God for you honesty and integrity around your decision whether to go forward to receive the sacraments. The Church would be so much stronger spiritually, if all the world’s Catholics would examine themselves thus, before approaching the altar rail each day!
I believe on your journey towards coming into full communion with the Church there are two types of doubt:
a) There is the kind of doubt which says “I really don’t understand this teaching and can’t for the life of me understand why the Church teaches this; however, I have come to believe and accept the divine authority of the Church and though I can’t understand, I will believe blindly and follow the teaching in my own life (to the best of my ability and as much as grace allows at this time).”
b) There is doubt which says “I simply cannot understand this teaching, and in all conscience cannot follow it.”
If you are in situation a), then my advice would be to step forward in faith, receive the sacraments and trust in God’s grace to form you. I came to understand so much more of Church teaching AFTER my (adult) baptism, than I appreciated beforehand; yet I think I had given the consent of my will beforehand.
I think for every faithful and discerning Catholic there is ALWAYS some element of a)where this kind of faithful acceptance is necessary. Church teaching is so all encompassing, that one is always learning more, such that it is impossible to know and fully comprehend the whole teaching of the Church, especially at the beginning. Also “sin speaks to the sinner in the depths of his heart” (Cf. Psalm 36.1); there will always be times when sin convinces us that the Church is wrong, and in these times blind trust in Church teaching is all we can go on.
If you are in situation b), then don’t lose hope; it is absolutely fine to be in this situation, because you are honestly searching for the truth, and that is what is really important to God - if you are in this situation, then that is where you are, so don’t feel in any way discouraged - or that you need to fall back from the helpful RCIA group.
I would advise you in this situation to study the Church teachings in question, and also study the reasons and teachings behind the Catholic understanding of Church authority.
However, in addition, do not neglect the spiritual aspect to this. We may be intellectually convinced of something; even when our soul does not assent. Prayer is the key here and I would especially recommend spending time before the blessed sacrament. If you can get to a Church with exposition this is brilliant. Spending time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is an extension of the Mass, and although you cannot yet receive Communion, spending time in Adoration gives you, I believe, access to the most special graces a soul can receive, apart from receiving Communion.
I was in RCIA last year and dropped out about halfway through. (In a nutshell, I started RCIA because I felt a calling to be a nun, but fell in love and became engaged, and I needed some time apart to reconcile my conflicting feelings. Although my fiance was Catholic, I felt no need–and no pressure from him–to become Catholic just to marry him.) The staff was very understanding; no one tried to “talk me out of it” or make me feel guilty or put any pressure on me.
I rejoined this year after my fiance passed away, and was welcomed back with open arms, sympathy, and no judgments.
You don’t need to bow out, but you also don’t need to go through the Rite of Election.
Many people approach RCIA as something you do in a certain amount of time, often with the idea that you start in September and “graduate” by being baptized at Easter. This is not how it is envisioned by the Church.
The catechumenate lasts as long as it needs to. If you need another year to study, think about things, and pray about your future then you should take another year. If you need another year after that, that’s absolutely fine and what the Church calls for.
Talk with your RCIA director about how you feel and explain that you’d like to continue in the catechumenate. If the director has any problems with this idea, come back here and we’ll give you the citations from the Rite showing that this is appropriate.
You can continue and do RCIA again. You don’t have to “come into the church” before you are ready by any means. I have a friend that went through RCIA 3 times! He is Catholic now, but at the first go round, he felt as you do now.
Don’t give up! Question, seek, research, and understand!
Please remember why you have been drawn to the Church. Your prior belief system is still wedged in your mind making the transition much harder.
If you are not ready…you are not ready, but if your problem lies in doubting some of the Churches teaching remember that you were drawn to the Church not so much by the teachings that were obviously different than how you have believed but by those who Catholic faith gave you hope.
When one either is or chooses to become Catholic he/she must eventually realize that it doesn’t matter about our personal views on doctrine,dogma. We become something bigger than that …a great congregation of people who believe what the Church teaches, not what one’s individual mind has decided to be truth. All Catholics run into trouble every once in awhile, but we know that our understanding of certain doctrine does not mean that we are right …absolutely not. We must rely on the authority of the Church for the correct understanding of what Christ said, since the Church is the Body of Christ.
Ask our Lord to show you the truth outside of what you previously believed, but knock hard and often on His door proving your on determination to find the truth. Some of these points come with time, not because they are so hard to believe but because our prior believed are embedded in our minds. When you find the truth ,your old beliefs will just melt away. Don’t seek through your beliefs. Seek only for the truth.
You do not have to go through any of the Rites. You can remain an inquirer for as long as you need/want. I think it’s a mistake to drop out of RCIA but rather to tell your leaders you aren’t ready to proceed with the Rites and want to stay an inquirer.
The Rites simply mean you intend to enter the Church this year. If you aren’t ready, simply don’t go through the rites. But keep studying and keep attending.
In my old parish, we had an RCIA inquirere who came from a Hindu background and he spent 3 years in RCIA before he felt he could become a Catholic.
Who drop out now keep asking question and leard about Jesus Christ, the end of RICA is in Easter I think and you can learn must more by then you do not hhave to drop out at this time you can wait untill right befor Easter then leave
I think that if you don’t feel commited to believing what the Church teaches then you are not wrong for dropping out of RCIA at this time. But as an objective observer your post states that you would consider it to be sacrilegious to continue that probably has to do with not wanting to take the Eucharist unworthily. The fact that you would consider it to be sacrilegious says more about your faith then you might realize.
This is good for you, in my opinion. I was attracted to the Catholic Church many years ago. I entered the RCIA program and went for over a year. Time came and the RCIA directors felt that it was time for me to be confirmed and baptized. I thought so, too.
One day, however, I just stopped. I asked myself “Are you really willing to take this step? Are you ready to make a lifetime decision, a decision that will affect you for the rest of your life and for eternity hereafter?” I found it fairly foolish of myself to try to make a decision with eternal consequences within the time span of a year. Sure, I went to over twelve months of RCIA, with each class being over two hours long; but I felt that if I ever wanted to be honest with myself and the congregation that I had attended, then I needed to slow down before I make an eternal commitment.
I think you made the right decision in trying to slow down. Eternal commitments are not made in a year or two years.
hi. i would say you have alot of integrity, and are a very honest person. even if you do not fully join right now, you can always still attend mass, and there are alot of things to volunteer for. cannot tell you which way to go, but i would suggest, you talk with others and your priest, for guidance. maybe now is not the time. but there is still alot you can do, even if you cannot at this time go through all the steps. God bless you and yours, and you are in my prayers for divine guidance on this difficult issue.
Thank you all for your wonderful answers. I’m feeling much better about things this morning.
I think I’m headed toward a., but at the moment I’m still at b. and this is why I am hesitating. I do think eventually that I’ll be able to surrender my own doubts and just trust in God, but I can’t yet.
I don’t have that idea. This is my problem. When I began going to Mass several years ago and began the RCIA process, I didn’t have a full understanding; I thought believing in God and following Him was enough, but it didn’t really register until I began RCIA that the Church denies the existence of other gods. (For some reason, based on what I’d read of the Bible, I thought the Church took more of a henotheistic stance than a monotheistic one, although I don’t know why. I guess it’s something I didn’t think much about until I wanted a deeper understanding of God and the Church.)
I believe in God and I’ve felt His presence, but the idea that there ARE no other gods … I can intellectually accept that God is the one and only God, but it’s not something I quite understand in my heart and have complete faith in yet, if that makes any sense. I’m working on it, but I haven’t wrapped my mind around it.
This is very reassuring. Thank you. One of the reasons I’ve been afraid to bring this up at the meetings is that I’m afraid I’ll be pressured, and my standard response to pressure is to panic and run in the opposite direction. This is NOT something I want to do in this case!
I have to admit that this is something I have been thinking. And I don’t know why, because our groups’ leaders have mentioned in passing several times that some people go away and come back, some people need years. It just hasn’t registered with me, I guess. :o Like I said, I’m kind of slow sometimes!
Thank you. I really, really appreciate that.
This! This is exactly how I feel! It’s not that I don’t think faith will come with time — I do think I’m headed in the right direction, and I do intellectually believe that the Catholic Church is true. I’m just having hang-ups that are making me reluctant to make this lifetime decision yet. Thank you for writing this; I’ve been having some problems putting how I feel into words.
It’s very helpful to read other people’s experiences, both to know that I’m not alone in this and this isn’t The End for me, and to help me put into words how I’m feeling so that I’ll be better able to explain when I speak to the RCIA staff about this. I’m very grateful to those of you who have shared your own RCIA experiences.
I’m sorry for not replying to everyone personally, but I have read all of the responses here, and I am very grateful for them all. I am not always the bravest person, and your replies have really helped me. I will talk to the RCIA staff at our next meeting, and see what they suggest and where to go from there.