Hi – I was baptized Lutheran but our family never went to church. When I was an adolescent, my parents got involved in the church long enough for me to go through confirmation, and I had my first communion – then we stopped going to church again. Lutheranism seemed to be more of a cultural thing for us (I’m 1/2 Scandanavian), we were never “joiners”.
As a teenager I was a “Jesus freak” for awhile, and my mom was a sort-of independent, solo, Bible scholar. We had all kinds of Bibles and concordances around the house, and we would study and discuss them sometimes. As a result I have a reasonable understanding of theology and scripture.
I’m now 51 and since that time I’ve explored other paths… but I was never “religious” in any of them (following the family habit?). And although, like many, I sense the hypocrisy of Protestant evangelicals (especially television preachers), I never actually put Christians down, although many people I know did!
That said, the Catholic Church is the LAST place I expected to find myself – and yet strangely, but joyfully, here I am, and it feels like “home”. Theologically, spiritually, and historically it feels right. So I’m here to stay, and am in RCIA (hey, that rhymes!), and I have some questions.
Our group of (4) started in September – we are (3) candidates and (1) catachumen who will be baptised at the Rite of Election on Feb 10th.
First, would someone be willing to tell me what the RCIA program is supposed to contain? Our leaders are very nice women, but they want things to be “spontaneous” so that we don’t anticipate or plan too much and instead are “present” to the experience. I get it. But I’m also wondering when we will get to the meat of the program and start learning what we need to know, functionally.
Until now we have only really talked about basic Christian things – things that most believing Protestants would also believe about faith, surrender, intimacy with God, etc. It’s been a little lightweight in my opinion. We did briefly touch on prima scriptura as opposed to sola scriptura, but I already knew about that and am in agreement. The only two things of “substance” covered in the last four months have been 1) the emphasis on the community and Body of Christ, and 2) a one session discussion about social justice.
I’m concerned that there isn’t much more time before the Easter Season, then Easter, to learn what we really need to know.
For example Lent starts in two weeks and we haven’t talked about what that celebration consists of – what obligations and practices, personally and parish-wide. I know Lent involves fasting, giving something up, or taking something on… but that’s all I know. If I’m going to fast, I would kinda like to know what the parameters are, not just have it be “spontaneous”.
On another thread, I noticed someone asking about preparing for their first confession, and I imagine that will also be coming up for me – but it has not been explained. And I really don’t think that can be “spontaneous” either because as a First Confession I need to do some advance reflection. But we haven’t gone through any material on what to confess, what constitutes mortal sins, venial sins, whatever. And I have never been to confession, although I am familiar with a corollary, the 4th Step of AA. But it often takes people months to reflect and write down their 4th Step resentments and wrongdoings before “confessing” them to another person in the 5th Step. And in AA sometimes a 5th Step “confession” takes all day! So how and when am I going to learn about this confession piece before actually having to do it at Easter?
Lastly, I hear things like that I’ll be picking a saint’s name for myself at the Rite of Acceptance. But I can’t do that “spontaneously” either because I know almost nothing about any saints! If it’s true that I’ll be doing this, I need some time in advance to read about the lives of some saints, and pick one I’d like to have as my model and guide.
Our group is small, we also have two seminarians in attendance which is great. But we only meet for slightly over an hour each week. It just doesn’t seem like enough time to “transmit” the information still needed for the process.
I’m not an anxious person, but I am thirsting for more information than what I am getting. And I so appreciate having found these forums!
Can anyone help me with my current three questions?
Lenten fasts, giving stuff up, etc. Does a whole parish follow the same “plan”? Or do I do my fasts on my own? And fasting how and when?
First Confession. Is there a guideline somewhere for how to prepare for this?
Saint’s name. Do I need to pick one? Should I be getting ready for this?
Any other thoughts you have would also be appreciated!
Thank you for welcoming me.