My Faith Journey
For as long as I can remember the Catholic faith has always been in my periphery. Both my parents were from Catholic families, I was baptized Catholic, and off and on have attended church throughout the years. For me church has always been a place of peace and serenity. I may not have grown up 100% in the Catholic faith, but at the same time it has been a part of me.
I have always had faith and spirituality. I grew up learning and participating in the native traditions and practices of my ancestors. It had always been important to my dad to teach us all of our traditions. As a child I was content to only practice this part of my faith and beliefs, however as I got older I was curious about the traditions of my mom’s ancestors and that meant learning about the Catholic Church.
I tried learning and becoming a part of the Church in my late teens, but despite my desire to learn, it wasn’t yet my time to become a part of the Church. I think I needed these last 10 years to truly learn who I was and the person I wanted to be.
My attendance at church, though rare, was reserved for the holidays of Christmas and Easter, and I went mostly to be with my mom. While I enjoyed going to these Masses, I wasn’t sure if this was what I wanted. I thought as long as I was a good person I was “good to go.”
It wasn’t until I moved back home that I started attending Mass regularly with my mom and began thinking I wanted to fully become a part of the Church. Even then, this wasn’t a decision I reached in a day. It took me three years to come to the conclusion that this was the path I was supposed to follow.
That first year I was content to just sit in the pew and pray, observe, and let that sense of peace, home, and serenity wash over me. The second year was spent justifying that I was content to just sit in the pews and doing that was enough participation for me. The third year was spent doing a lot of soul searching. I had many questions: Am I doing this for me or to make family members happy? Would my dad be disappointed if I chose to follow this path? Is this really the path I want to follow?
I entered Holy Week with these questions, attending Mass, then feeling at home—finally hearing with open ears and an open heart that getting confirmed and taking First Communion became the easiest decision ever, and I never looked back.
Realizing My Catholic Faith as an RCIA Sponsor
My wife and I had discussed off and on for several years that she needed to be baptized. I didn’t care which Church she chose to do it in as long as it got done. I was happy when she decided to go to the Catholic Church. When we called someone at St John’s we were told that she would have to attend RCIA to be baptized. We knew that would be a much longer process than we had expected, but she was ready to take the plunge. I promised her that I would attend the first several classes with her until she was comfortable with the group. After several classes I realized that I was enjoying the experience so I continued to attend most of the classes. In each class I learned something new. I also listened to several of the attendees tell their stories of how they got to this stage in their life and why they wanted to be baptized in the Catholic Church.
For some of them, it was not an easy path. As a life-long Catholic, being baptized as a baby, I didn’t have to make the difficult decisions that they did. I sometimes wondered if I would have had the courage to make that leap into the unknown.
One thing these classes did for me was to make me rethink my life as a Catholic. For many years I was the “casual” Catholic who did nothing different during the Lenten or Easter season. I didn’t attend the special events like the Stations of the Cross or the Holy Week activities. Easter Sunday was just another Sunday. That changed when my wife and I started attending the RCIA classes. She wanted the full Catholic experience, and I wanted a return to the Catholic experience I had as a child when my parents would take me to all of the Christmas and Easter season events at our small country parish.
Since the start of the classes, we have attended every function we could, including a Saturday retreat, a visit to the cathedral to meet Bishop Aquila, Stations of the Cross, a Seder dinner, and of course, the Triduum Mass starting on Holy Thursday and ending at the Saturday evening vigil when my wife and the other catechumens were Baptized and Confirmed.
I have found new meaning in my Catholic faith by participating in all of these events. I encourage all “casual” Catholics who are on the fringes of their faith to take a new look at what it means to be Catholic.