I will be starting RCIA classes this Sunday. For those not up on the 411 of Catholic lingo RCIA is the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. It's for anyone, even if you don't think you want to (ever) join the church or you've been a member since birth. It's a long process; I start on October 28th and take a class a week until after my first communion on Easter Vigil. It's a little crazy, a little controlling and I'm rather surprised that I'm about to take this step.
I don't have to take this step. My husband and his family are perfectly content with whatever way I chose to express my faith. There is no pressure to convert even from the more devout and pious members of the family (and we've got nuns, catechists, etc.all throughout the family) so I can really say I'm taking this step of my own volition.
I'm pretty determined of my course; I fully plan on receiving communion at the Easter Vigil, but it can still be a little overwhelming at times.
I'm am not entering this phase of my religious development wearing rose colored glasses and I do not have myself convinced of anything black or white definitions. There are teachings I struggle with and probably will struggle with for a long while. I am nervous of being part of a religious organization which has had so many failings in the past and have already tasted the vehemence of peoples' dislike of Catholics.
I am where I am because I wasn't happy, content or fulfilled in the teachings I grew up with. I am where I am because we want to present a unified front when it comes to teaching our children about faith. I am where I am because, while I still struggle with some teachings, I've found some amazing teachings that call to me to be a better wife, mother, daughter and member of my community and world.
A large part of the credit for where I am should go to a number of friends (and my husband) for being remarkable people and models of a faith that I will admit to being highly prejudiced against. I've lost count of the number of times I've been floored by a friends love, charity or just day to day behaviors only to find out that the same thing I was so impressed with was inspired by their faith. I remember saying, or at least thinking, on more than one occasion "You can't be Catholic, you're too normal." The way they took what they learned in classes as a teenager or Mass as an adult and found numerous ways to apply it to their lives was an inspiration.
I do not start on this journey with any idea that I can atone for others' past wrongs or mistakes. I can barely hope to make sense of it all in my life time. There is, in fact, quite a few points that I just don't attempt because I don't feel we - as conscious human beings - are even at a point of really understanding something so simply and wonderfully complicated. But, I can hope that I can take what I can understand and apply it to living a good, loving, charitable life. I hope that as I engage in this journey I will find my own way to show that what draws me to the faith I choose to live is not how the Church lives in the world at large, but how the Church lives in me.