After “our team is too small,” the next-biggest complaint I hear from RCIA teams is “we don’t have enough.” Enough budget, enough space, enough training, enough resources. I learned a lesson about this a long time ago.
My first parish job involved helping with a long-term church renovation project. The renovation took several years because our funds were limited. At one point, I said it would be great if some rich parishioner would donate all the money we needed so we could move ahead with all the plans at once. The liturgical design consultant disagreed. He said that when people have all the resources they need, they tend to be much less creative. Constraints, he said, force us to be imaginative.
In that same parish, I learned how to write. I always got good grades in classes that required writing, and I thought I was a pretty good writer already. So I decided to write a weekly liturgy column for our Sunday bulletin. The parish secretary was the bulletin editor, and I had to beg her for space. Finally, she relented. 200 words, she said. That’s all the space I could have. If you have read this far in the post, you’ve already read more than 200 words. I had to get very creative to write something substantial in that small of a space.
Be an RCIA hero
Biblical heroes are famous for working within constraints. Sarah was too old. David had only a slingshot. Moses stuttered. Jeremiah was too young. Elijah was a wanted man. Mary was unmarried. Jesus had only five loaves and two fish. Martha worried a lot. Peter was in denial. Paul was hated and feared by the Christians. All of them relied on the resources and gifts they did have to answer God’s call.
What all of these heroes knew or learned was that the mission was not about them. The mission is not about my success. It is about the Spirit’s success. God will not give us a job to do without giving us the grace we need to do it.
So the next time you are having a hard day and you think you’re up against a brick wall, remember what Saint John XXIII used to say when he thought he had used up all his resources: “It’s your church Lord; I’m going to bed.” Then get up the next day, and pray for the grace to think up a new way to solve the problem you are stuck on.
What RCIA project are you stuck on?
What is your brick wall? What is one creative thing you can imagine to break through, tear down, go over, or go around the wall?
2 thoughts on “Embrace your RCIA constraints”
Yes! Constraints always force one to decide what matters the most. In my case I’d really like to have two years with my catechism class instead of just one. But one is all I get. Not only does that time restraint force me to pare down to what’s absolutely important, but also to effectively use every minute of every class.
Breaking Open the Word was a challenge during the Catechumenate. I could not, nor should not be the only one to be with the Catechumens. In considering who could I ask to help, I realized our parish lectors are Ministers of the Word, and hopefully spend prayer time considering how the Word impacts their life. They wonderfully responded to my request to take part in leading the faith-sharing that accompanies the Dismissal from the Sunday liturgy during this Period.