I'm Not Yet Ready


#1

It was around last Easter that I was starting to be less comfortable with my Baptist Church. And that I began to want to speak with a Catholic Priest. But it is a busy time in the Catholic Church so I waited until Easter had passed. And I met with my Priest last June.

Quite a bit has happened since then:

a) I started reading a lot since last June. Books I read include:
“Life is Worth Living” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)
“Treasure in Clay” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)
“Characters of the Passion” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)
“Heaven in Our Hands” (Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel)
“The Gift of Peace” (Cardinal Joseph Berardin)
“Advent and Christmas with Fulton J. Sheen” (edited by Judy Bauer)
Apostolic Letter “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” (Pope John Paul II)

I am presently reading
"The Secret of the Rosary" (St. Louis Grignion de Montfort)
“Victory Over Vice” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)
“Mary Day by Day” (a daily devotional)
“Imitation of Mary” (Alexander de Rouville)

I think Our Lady of Lourdes (Mary) helped pick out the last two books so that I might learn more about her virtues.

b) I started RCIA. This year’s RCIA is perhaps on the short side because Easter is so early this year.

c) I learned how to pray the Rosary (but still need to memorize the Apostles Creed and Hail Holy Queen prayers).

d) I enrolled in the Rosary Confraternity

e) I just started a new job (I was unemployed since November 2003)

Tomorrow is “sending to the Bishop”. Our class already had the rite of acceptance.

Dilemma: I am not ready to receive the sacraments.

In part, because of my “life situation”. I’m married (almost 10 years ago) and have children. My wife is not Catholic. We still go to the Baptist Church together (and afterwards I go to the Catholic Church by myself). I avoid communion Sundays at the Baptist Church. I know cannot presently receive absolution in confession (and I’d rather not discuss why in this forum). It will be perhaps another year or so. I suppose also that I should not be confirmed nor go to confession, etc. And I wonder if I should be sent to the Bishop or if I should have been received into the Church – but I’m going along with that.

Question 1: So at what point should I not be participating along with this year’s RCIA class? I’ll try to discuss this and ask my RCIA director a few questions when they aren’t so busy. And I suppose that they are already thinking about this as well. Perhaps they don’t want to offend me. And I don’t want to cause somebody to stumble (to go as far as somebody giving me a sacrament when I am not ready).

Question 2: I read that becoming a Catholic is a process that takes at least a year.

[quote=http://www.catholic.org/clife/prayers/become.php]The second stage is called the catechumenate and, for the unbaptized listed above, who are now called catechumens, should last no less than one full year.
[/quote]

I am unaware that anyplace usually spends more than one year.

Comment: Mary is the refuge of sinners. I am depending on Mary and Jesus to watch over me during this time. And this has brought me comfort.


#2

You say that you cannot receive absolution in Confession. If you have been baptized and for whatever reason can’t go to Confession, then you can’t receive any other Sacrament of the Living (e.g., Confirmation or Holy Communion); therefore, it would seem that you can’t be received into the Chruch right now.

I would suggest you talk privately to a priest and bypass the RCIA director (unless he be a priest or deacon).


#3

I ditto Benedictus. There’s no reason that you need to lockstep along with your RCIA group. In a special case, where you are not ready at Easter, there is no reason that you could not be confirmed privately at another time before the 2006 Easter Vigil.

Your disposition is unquestionable. If I were your pastor, I would meet you where you are and not drag you through the public rites unless you are ready. There is no reason, though, that you could not be “sent.” at this time. You might not go along to the next ceremonial marker but if you know that you will be continuing into full Communion, then this is a step you might be ready to take. It is a very beautiful ceremony – perhaps your wife or children could join you, since there is no Mass. It would give them a feel for the seriousness of this process.


#4

As a baptized person, you do not have to go through the rite of sending. This is optional for those who have been baptized, even if they are received into the Church at Easter. In the RCIA ( the book of rites of Christian initiation), #411 clearly states that the rite of welcoming is optional & this whole category that includes the rite of sending & the call to continuing conversion by the bishop is optional (the title of this section states, “Optional Rites for Baptized but Uncatechized Adults.”

You may go through it if you wish. Going through it does not bind you to entering the Church at Easter. In fact, the US bishops have stated, “It is preferable that reception into full communion not take place at the Easter Vigil lest there be any confusion of such baptized Christions with the candidates for baptism, possible misunderstanding of or even reflection upon the sacrament of baptism celebrated in another Church or ecclesial community, or any perceived triumphalism in the liturgical welcome into the Catholic eucharistic community.” (Noational Statutes for the Catechumenate, # 33)

This is a perfect example of why RCIA should not be a yearly program, but rather, a year-round process. The spiritual journey is not “one size fits all.” In our RCIA we just had a Rite of Welcoming last week, one person will be with us at least another year… two others will be going to the Rite of Acceptance to Continuing Conversion. We have three children who joined us for the first time last week… precatechumenate. We have two teenagers who after two years will be initiated at Easter, a college age young woman who will probably be received into the Church next fall, etc. etc. Yes it’s crazy & hectic & exciting, and all so very human! The Holy Spirit has to be in charge of this & for that we are all grateful!

Please do not be troubled, the Holy Spirit is in charge of your advancement into the Catholic Church. My prayers and good wishes are with you.


#5

I had to go through RCIA twice, because I was not quite ready that first Easter. It’s OK, really. I know a man who went through 3 times!

You will be ready when the Holy Spirit invites you. Just be sure that this is not a case of “cold feet”. My spouse did not come into the Church with me (then nor later). It can be a frightening step to take.
As far as the absolution thing, of course you can be absolved. The only impediment I can imagine is some type of marriage irregularity that needs resolution in the Tribunal. That would be a legitimate barrier.

Peace be with you, and we look forward to having you join us at the table soon. You are right to trust Our Lord and His mother. If they brought you this far, they will not fail you.


#6

[quote=jmm08]Dilemma: I am not ready to receive the sacraments…

Comment: Mary is the refuge of sinners. I am depending on Mary and Jesus to watch over me during this time. And this has brought me comfort.
[/quote]

Hi Jmm,
You are right… put your trust and hope in Jesus and Mary and they will bring you through… God Bless you and may all our prayers bring you comfort and safely home to the Catholic Church.
Annunciata:)


#7

You are in my prayers…


#8

Benedictus: I was baptized in the Methodist Church as an infant.

I went through the rite of acceptance and I am glad that I did. As long as it was OK and I suppose it was, otherwise I suppose I wouldn’t have been included in it. At first (last June), I thought I was ready to join the Catholic Church and not need any training. Nor wait to take Holy Communion. But I really didn’t know.

I want to go to confession. But I should not receive absolution. I need to get an annulment from a prior marriage that ended in divorce quite awhile ago. I cannot receive the sacraments. The last seven months have all been so fast that it is easily confusing to most casual observers (like my wife and children). They reasonably ask why I am Catholic all of a sudden. And I don’t have a good answer that I can openly share with them.

Matthew 9:12 He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do."

mercygate: It is already the plan that I will come into the Church at an appropriate time. God is in control… My main concern is to try to stay in God’s will.

The “ceremonial markers” are not sufficiently explained to those of us who are really very new to Catholicism. Many other people in RCIA have friends or relatives who have been through it already. When it came time for the “rite of acceptance”, the first time I heard the words were during the practice only days before that Sunday. Fortunately, I did already concur with the correct answers to various questions that were publicly asked in that ceremony. But I did not fully understand the significance of the “rite of acceptance” until just before. Afterwards I wondered if it was OK for me to go through the “rite of acceptance” since I cannot yet receive the sacraments.

Tomorrow’s ceremony isn’t a problem for me. But I told my sponsor that I wasn’t fully comfortable with them saying before God in the ceremony that I was ready.

My wife is uncomfortable with me becoming Catholic. She tolerates it so far. I cannot blame her. As a non-Catholic I wouldn’t have married or dated a Catholic. And I was a non-Catholic. A few months ago, I took my wife to Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception’s Crypt Church. It is very beautiful. But really it must have been quite scary for her as well. That day, there was incense, Eucharistic Adoration (Christ exposed) and the Rosary before Mass. We both went forward and received a blessing from Monsignor Bransfield during the Mass that day (Bransfield is now the new Bishop of West Virginia).

Mary3: There is a young unbaptized adult in our RCIA class who is in their fourth. They had moved often – military.

The delay situation is marriage irregularity. I divorced and remarried about ten years ago. It has only been since last June that I began to think more Catholic.

Annunciata: Mary is a refuge of sinners. As a Protestant I remember singing Rock of Ages – “Let me hide myself in Thee”. There are some Catholics who think you cannot be saved if you haven’t received absolution in confession. However, I think to myself that Mary is the Queen of Confessors. That Mary and Jesus are watching and caring for me.

There is a loophole that can be used by those in emergency circumstances. See “Mary Day by Day” January 14 (Deut. 19:2-4). The New Testament is better in every way to the Old Covenant. So we can seek refuge in Mary. I am safe if I flee to Mary and ask her for mercy and refuge.

[quote=Saint Anthony of Padua]Seek refuge in Mary because she is the city of refuge. We know that Moses set up three cities of refuge for anyone who inadvertently killed his neighbor. Now the Lord has established a refuge of mercy, Mary, even for those who deliberately commit evil. Mary provides shelter and strength for the sinner.
[/quote]

I take comfort and do my best to have contrition for my sins. I go to Mass each Sunday, to RCIA and I try to fulfill my obligations in my current state of life (married with young children). I am not writing that anyone should not go to confession. The sacraments are vital. But in extraordinary circumstances such as where I presently find myself, I think the best solution is to seek refuge in Mary. To stay with Mary and to try my best not to deliberately commit evil.


#9

the guideline that RCIA class lasts at least a year is a minimum, not a maximum. “It takes as long as it takes.” We are talking about a process, a journey, a conversion, much more than a curriculum. RCIA is a process, not a class although it involves study, not a program. You are an adult, you decide when you are ready. If there is a good reason, you can be received into the Church at a time other than Easter. As the DRE and RCIA director, I advise you to heed advice above: bypass the RCIA director and catechist, go straight to your pastor, have this conversation with him. Until you are ready, go on doing the good things you have described. Read. Pray. Go to Mass. When you are ready, tell your priest, go to confession and ask for first communion, and then get confirmed the next time your bishop confirms adults or next Easter in your parish.


#10

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