Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Advanced RCIA 101

RCIA classes are about halfway over and I hate to say it - they haven't quite been the experience I was hoping for.  Our teachers are quite sedate and most of the other candidates are there just be able to participate in church as a family (admirable, but I was hoping for at least one other person who wanted to be there for themselves); we learned quickly that both of our teachers have very literal trains of thoughts and any use of metaphor scares them - answering a question by relating the subject matter to a roller-coaster ride was met with looks that made me wonder if I'd grown horns.

They are downright timid when it comes to enthusiasm and it's kind of taking away from my experience to be honest.  Their hearts are in the right place of course, but I find myself wondering if there might have been an Advanced RCIA that I could have signed up for - I've already educated myself (through books, friends and family) on so much we're covering and honestly I want to dive into the some of the knitty gritty aspects - I want that to be my test as we approach Easter.  Don't just tell be what the sacraments are - challenge my notions on why they are important, etc.

In the end the end is what matters and so much of this journey I've taken on my own, but it can be a little bit of a let down to step into something that you were hoping would continue to inspire you and instead you find yourself wondering if there's going to be a pop quiz and if you should have reviewed your trigonometry notes.

Instead of dwelling on all of this I'm trying to look at my RCIA experience from the inside out - there are so many more things going on as a result of this journey that ARE encouraging me in the ways that I need at this moment. 

My husband and I are having fantastic discussions about the subject matter, and I've even got him to push through some of the books I've read (he loves the ideas, but hates reading most non-fiction).  I brought up the idea of watching Fr. Barron's "Catholicism" documentary together and he just lit up - not only does he love a good documentary (I guess he prefers to see and hear his non-fiction), but he's heard about this Fr. Barron guy and is more than excited to watch it.

Within my little blog world I'm stretching my wings and "meeting" new folk who's lives, experiences and writings continue to excite and challenge me - if I could make you my co-sponsors I would.

As it turns out Advanced RCIA may not be a challenging class, but rather a challenge for me to take my own steps to further my "education".

Next stop Validation (soon hopefully) and Rite of Election (definitely in a few weeks).

P.S. Have you voted for "Most Underappreciated Blog" over at A Knotted Life?

13 comments:

  1. I voted for you! I've always wondered if I could learn more in an RCIA class, but found that to learn more, I would have to seek on my own. Congrats on getting half way, and continued prayers for an experience that challenges.

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    1. The one good thing is that Ben and I have a firm desire to teach RCIA sometime in the future. I feel like we're getting "Catholicism for Beginners" (which is probably perfect for a good number in my class who have straight up said that they just want to be on the same page once kids get in the mix... ie I don't want to be sitting in the back for communion all the time), but I just want a bit more of a challenge. We've had some interesting readings on the basics, but I want more on how it will and should affect my day to day life!

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  2. I think your RCIA experiences are fairly universal. I did RCIA in undergrad and even though everyone there was searching for themselves the classes weren't all that exciting and I did most of my own research through really great books that went beyond the really sad workbook we had and discussions with my future husband. I actually went through RCIA three times before I finally decided to completely horrify my Southern Baptist family and join the Church :) Then my priest asked me to help teach it my senior year since I was so well versed!

    I also just had a similar experience wishing for an advanced class last week when I was forced to attend a baptism class at our new parish (even though this is not my first time at the rodeo!) and I really wasn't in the mood for a vague parish pep talk about why baptism is important and why you should *probably* also attend mass on Sundays. I know that there were a lot of parents there who did need that talk and I should have been more charitable but when I'm this pregnant it can be hard :)

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    1. That sounds like our baptism class too. I hate to say it (though I think our priest is retiring and I might wait it out to see who replaces him) but we might switch parishes after RCIA is done - ours is very modern and we both prefer something a little more traditional. I had enough of microphones and drumsets in methodism, I want a little more calm in my Mass.

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  3. My RCIA was boring in that I already knew the content. I did enjoy getting to know the people there because there were a couple of converts like myself. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I encourage you to go ahead and dive right in. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to books, people, etc who will be your true "preparation" to fully enter into the mysteries of Lent and Easter.

    I love being Catholic! It's much harder than what I was before, but the grace is also deeper. I'll be praying for you.

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  4. I think these types of classes can be so difficult to get through. You want them to be so inspiring and eye opening and they rarely are. I have had great retreats and terrible classes as well. Our marriage class in West Virginia was just awful! It was pretty much being run by a Lutheran guy whose Catholic wife was there to chime in now and then. The priest that was present said mass and then just sort of sat back to grin and watch like. It was very secular seeming and they really didn't want to step on anybodies toes because they knew people might be offended. They barely emphasized the idea of no sex before marriage because they probably assumed we were all already doing that. Then we were asked to write down anonymous questions on paper. When they read Zach's question about NFP, the Lutheran guy just said he didn't know anything about that and we would have to seek out our own answers. Then in a later group conversation Zach brought it up again since it was something he was really struggling with and wanted support in. No one present could help out including the priest. Zach was so furious when we left that he was almost in tears. He felt like everyone was just saying, "You should be Catholic, but you don't really need to take it seriously or believe everything (especially the controversial stuff)." We couldn't find an NFP class in WV because they didn't have any. AZ requires that we had an Intro Class and our priest in Phoenix was shocked by our experience in WV. We did an Intro Class in Phx and then the rest online. It is still so hard for me to get Zach to want to go to any retreats or lectures because he thinks they will be a waste of time. The point is that if you want to get more out of the experience you will do it even if it takes more of your personal time. It is good to take these things seriously and really truly agree with the teachings before you make the plunge. It sounds like a lot of people in your class aren't doing it for the right reasons. It sounds like you are still committed and that is good, but keep sharing your trials and tribulations. Okay, this is long. We can talk more later if needed. All my prayers.

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    1. There's so much more to say to this comment, but gah! Mary have I told you that there is not an NFP class to be found for atleast 30 miles and we have 4 major catholic churches in our immediate area (IC and it's suburbs), a Newman Center on campus, a Catholic Hospital, etc.

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  5. We can do better as a church!! I was a protestant convert (for my self!) and found the same experience. I really hope there is a revival fever introduced into the RCIA program. Most programs have been run by the same people for decades. Please please please consider joining the ministry!!! Make it better!!! If they are not inviting, demand to be a part of it. Our churches future is at steak. We need to take some pointers from our protestant bothers and sisters how to ENGAGE people. Our church does a pretty good job, but needs to have a couple under 40 somethings on the team who are hip to christian music of today! I am deeply involved in the teen ministry (another lacking ministry nationwide)or I would be all over it. To everyone who commented, please get involved! We need more passionate, educated and youthful blood!!!!!

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    1. Exactly LauraKate! We're hoping to get involved in marriage prep and RCIA in the future!

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  6. ps- the Fr. Baron doc. are awesome!

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  7. I've been reading here for a little while, and thought I'd make a comment. I am also in RCIA this year. And I am also not feeling challenged in the class. Most of the info we're going over, I've been hearing all my life, although in the class it has a *slightly* different slant to it, which is ok. It has honestly been more of a challenge/discipline to sit the classes than the material. The one bright spot is we started the classes late, so we have to do some one-on-one make up classes. And during those times they have allowed us to ask our questions and then we get into much deeper discussions about topics. But I am so glad to know that I'm not the only one who is wanting much more out of the classes, and I love the way you put it, that the challenge is to take our own steps to further our education.

    I'm so glad to have found the post. I read blogs from catholic converts, and they're great (lots of great insight), but to find someone going through the same thing as me at the same time is so encouraging. Will be saying prayers for you!

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    1. prayers for you too Ruth Anne. I'm surprised that it's the same for so many others, but glad that it's not "just me". This last weekend's class on the sacraments was so painful to listen to that it required a Chinese food lunch venting session! However, like it has been happening it lead to a great discussion with my sponsor.

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