So tomorrow is not only my last CCD class before the holidays, but my Rite of Acceptance ceremony. I was pretty nervous about it on Thursday and actually chickened out of going to RCIA and the obligatory mass for the Feast of Immaculate Conception. I was terrified and didn't know how big of a deal the ceremony is ... and though I've been decided on this course for about a year I still was unsure whether I could actually go through with it.
That night when I looked over the text of the ceremony things seemed a little more clear, but I was still scared. Here is how it will go:
What do you ask of God's Church?
What does Faith offer you?
Candidates: Eternal Life
Are you prepared to begin this journey today under the guidance of Christ and your sponsor?
Candidates: I am
Sponsors ... are you ready to help these candidates find and follow Christ?
Sponsors: We are
So the part that was scary to me of that was whether Faith offers me Eternal Life. During the week I had kind of a spiritual crisis where I doubted my Faith, doubted the existence of God, and felt like He had forsaken us. Ever since I first learned of Jesus' last words in Matthew 27:46, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I was terrified that God had forsaken Jesus, or that Jesus was not actually God, or that God had forsaken all humans.
I talked to Bodie about this, and he said that God doesn't forsake us, we forsake him. I thought about that for awhile and realized that when I felt desperate and alone and like God was not behind me or with me it was not because he wasn't there; it was because I stopped believing and stopped praying and faltered in my faith. You don't forsake us, we forsake you. He also told me that you're not in control and you don't need to be. This is so true, God is in control and so often I get caught up in planning and perfecting and controlling this life that I forget to slow down, have patience, and let him guide me. I realized that even with prayer I was trying to make things happen, to control my life and the world around me. Pray, don't conjure. We don't need to control the world or make things happen or plan it perfectly, we need to live love and let God guide us and pray for His guidance and support.
Today Bette (Bodie's mom) left a note inviting me to talk to her about all my doubts, since she is my RCIA sponsor. I made a list and then we walked over to St. Rita's in Sierra Madre to talk and pray. Here is what I was unsure of:
1. Jesus' last words, Matthew 27:46
2. Legalism / absolutism. When I started looking into becoming Catholic I searched for a lot of answers online and found myself often at Catholic Answer Forums disagreeing with their responses, and oftentimes feeling like the answers were cruel, unloving, and unChristian. I could not stand the way these poor souls were being treated by important figures of faith and authority. I'll probably get into this more in a later post and don't want to go into details now, but I feel that we are not called to judge each other and set strict human rules, we are called to spread love and community and I would urge the apologetics on this site to act more like Paul in his letters to Corinthians, and act in a more loving, kind, and open manner.
3. If I don't agree with every aspect of a religion can/should I join one?
4. Judgement / feeling like there are a lot of "good" Chrisians and Catholics who are really hurtful and judgemental to others and use faith as a source of hate. I don't think that God calls us to judge each other and tear each other down, I think he calls us to love each other and bring each other up, rejoicing in our successes and helping each other through difficulties.
On that note, can you imagine if instead of pro-choice people feeling like pro-lifers were trying to restrict them and call them murderers, they saw that the pro-lifers were really hoping to spread love and really truly loved their unborn child, loved them, and wanted to do all that they could to help the family get through a difficult time. If we spread love rather than hate, we accomplish SO much more. Hate brings this world to its knees, and I am guilty of it myself of course, but I spend my life trying to love and that is really the biggest tenet of my faith.
So anyways, we went to the Church and met the pastor who we thought was a janitor at first since he was in street clothes carrying a ladder, but talking to him was nice, and seeing the church was nice, and Bette was very helpful and listened to all my concerns. Bodie also really helped this morning, and Thursday night when I was having trouble. He asked me if I could within good conscience go through with the ceremony and move towards joining the Church. I thought about it for a long time and realized that I absolutely could. My conscience is completely at peace with this move, I know my reasons for doing it, I am not hiding anything from myself, and I know what I believe, feel, trust, and KNOW. He showed me Psalm 22, which really helped me to understand Matthew 27:46, and I feel so much better going into this tomorrow than I did on Thursday.