As I sit down to write this reflection, it is January 10, 2021. Many of our lives were vastly changed and affected by the events throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Many topics have floated in and out of my mind over the past few months, and this required much contemplation on what to share with you for my reflection. I finally settled on sharing my journey through RCIA and how it has profoundly and profoundly changed my life and marriage for the better.
About a month after we started officially “dating,” Alex (my now husband) and I discussed attending church together for the first time. I had grown up in a protestant household and had been a member of a few denominational churches over the years. I have always believed in God, but I had this deep feeling that I hadn’t yet found my place. Alex, on the other hand, was a cradle Catholic from birth. He is originally from Peoria, IL, and had moved to Terre Haute for work. He attended Mass when he could, but many of his weekends and evenings were busy. Attending church regularly and being a part of a larger faith-based community was very important to both of us. So, what did we do? Like any young couple, we started “church shopping” together, for lack of a better term. We began attending services at different churches, both with an open mind. Looking back, I’m not sure what we were hoping for. We had no pre-determined guidelines or requirements; we were just hoping to find someplace that felt like home.
A few weeks later, we stepped through the doors of St. Patrick Catholic Chuch in Terre Haute for the first time together. It was almost Thanksgiving 2019, and Father Dan was presiding over Mass. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you the details of his homily from that day. Maybe it was a Star Wars reference, random movie quote, or comical story that he somehow always finds a way to tie in just perfectly. But we both instantly knew this was going to be our place. We knew that this would be our new home.
Fast forward a few months, and as things began to get more serious between Alex and me, we started to have conversations about getting married and raising a family together. It was essential to both of us that our future children be raised in a home that believed in God and put faith first. At this point, attending Sunday Mass at St. Pat’s had become one of our favorite parts of the week. Each week, I asked more and more questions, googling things in the evening when I had free time, and my curiosity about the Catholic faith was growing.
Insert COVID-19, and lots of things changed. We could no longer attend Mass in person, Alex was missing coffee and donuts more than ever (he still is, since it has not resumed); yet our relationship continued to grow.
I began teaching Kindergarten remotely, started grad school, and we got engaged! Given the future’s unpredictability, we decided on a small civil ceremony and a convalidation ceremony at St. Pat’s in 2021, after I had officially joined the church through the RCIA process.
In August, we met our RCIA team the day before our wedding. We learned that I would have to attend class each Wednesday from then until Easter Sunday. By this point, I had officially chosen Alex to be my sponsor throughout the journey. That day we decided that when possible, we would attend RCIA classes together. It would be a good refresher for Alex and a learning process for me. Except for one time, during harvest season, Alex and I have been able to keep this promise to each other.
You’re probably wondering at this point why I have told you my entire marriage story. It is to make one critical point.
If you are the person considering starting the RCIA process, now is your time. 2021 can be your year. I cannot think of a better way to off the new year.
Maybe you were raised in the church but did not complete confirmation. Perhaps you are married to a practicing Catholic and always promised to join the church but have never found time. Are you the young adult that has just discovered the Catholic church and feel the nudge that maybe this is your home too? Possibly, you are the friend of someone that has been considering joining the church. Encourage them, answer their questions, ask how you can support them in their faith journey! Take that leap of faith. Dive deeply into the two-thousand-year history of the Catholic church and its RCIA process. Ask questions. I promise that you will not regret it, and I promise that it is never too late. Our RCIA class is quite diverse this year, with members from most parishes in Terre Haute, and nothing makes me prouder than to see all the beautiful people walking alongside me on this journey of joining the Catholic Church. Also, due to COVID, there is much more flexibility with schedules for RCIA. Each session is recorded and posted to Youtube for convenient viewing.
Alex and I now pray together daily. We say grace before we eat. We purposely sit down to share meals. We tithe with our joint income. We have begun the process of opening our home to children in need by becoming foster parents. We do this intending to love and support these children as Jesus loves us all. We consciously welcome Jesus into our hearts and home more than we ever have before. For the first time in my life, I started the new year by attending Mass on New Year’s Day, and there is no place I would have rather been. A new year’s resolution of ours was to start reading the Bible. Neither of us has ever read the entire thing. We found a plan online to read the Bible’s books in chronological order, and it is now part of our nightly routine. We take turns reading aloud together and reflecting. It is such a simple yet meaningful part of our day. We are actively debunking the myth that Catholics don’t read the Bible.
And dear reader, don’t worry. If you make a mistake along the way, like forgetting to cross your arms during communion when you have not yet received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, The priest will forgive you. Sorry about that, Father Dan; I was flustered!
I will leave you with this quote that we had read at our wedding ceremony in August. It speaks to me as I reflect upon my love for Alex, the love present in our marriage, and most importantly, the love that we both have for Jesus as a focal point of our marriage.
May the Love of Christ, which endures all things, and found only by living in union with our God, abide which each of you.