One Sunday morning during the Easter season, a neophyte walked in with a bounce in her step and an inner glow. The joy of her conversion shone all over her face! The pastor asked Mary if she would share her initiation experience with the parish. Mary’s reflection not only touched the hearts of many people in that assembly, but it could also serve as a blueprint for the formation set forth in paragraph 75 of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
Formation through prayer and worship
“Sunday after Sunday I worshiped with you,” she said. “You taught me what it means to praise God. I listened to your Scriptures and the homilies. I was challenged to turn away from sinful habits. I grew up in a racist home. I left school at 16 rather than go to school with children from another race during de-segregation days. But I caught your prayer and as I started to get stronger in my faith I changed. I turned from my sinful bigotries and began to make prayer a part of my daily life. I caught your faith.” (See RCIA 75.3.)
Formation through word and tradition
“Week after week I heard the gospel proclaimed in Mass, and I reflected on it with others preparing to become Catholic. I learned what it means to be Catholic—what we believe as Catholics. I not only learned it from the catechists, but I learned it from you when you shared your understanding of what it means to be Catholic with me. I caught your faith.” (See RCIA 75.1.)
Formation through community life
“I got to know you; I feel like I am a part of you. I worked at the parish fair; I attended parish retreats and shared life with you whenever I could. I slowly came to know that you were my family and what it means to have a new family in Christ. As I walked this journey with you, I slowly came to understand what it means to be the Body of Christ—that it encompasses every part of our everyday lives. You taught me that by the way you live your lives and the way that your Christian faith defines your entire life—family life, work, prayer, and play. I became a part of you. I caught your faith.” (See RCIA 75.2.)
Formation through apostolic life and service
“I went with you as you fed the poor in our neighborhoods. I even found great joy and satisfaction as I provided food and clothing for a poor family. I have found that I cannot keep it inside. I have to tell others. I really once was dead, but now am alive. I caught your faith.” (See RCIA 75.4.)
Formation through living the paschal mystery
“Above all, as I journeyed with you throughout the year I became acutely aware of what it means to die and rise with Jesus. Through a journey of twists and turns I slowly turned away from my life of sin and most of all, bigotry. I discovered that I have a place to bring the joys and sorrows of my life—to the foot of Jesus’ cross. I now can find meaning in the midst of pain. If I join my struggles to the ultimate struggle of the cross, I can share in Jesus’ ongoing work of redemption. The thought that my suffering can benefit others brings deep meaning to my life. The fact that my suffering, like the suffering of Christ, in some mysterious way is offered as atonement for the sins of the world, gives my life new purpose. Thank you all. I caught your faith.” (See RCIA 8, 75.)
In one witness to our community, Mary expressed the fullness of initiatory formation as it is envisioned in paragraph 75 of the RCIA—formation rooted in liturgy, Scripture and tradition, community, service, and the paschal mystery of Christ. Formation rooted first and foremost in the liturgical year and secondly in the Sunday liturgy of the word, in the Scriptures of the Sunday liturgy and the doctrine that flows from them, and formation and apprenticeship in the life of the community and its apostolic life. The community formed her in the faith by the way they prayed, what they believed, how they lived their life, and how they as a community journeyed together through the liturgical cycle—the essence of paragraph 75.
Check out this webinar recording: “Storytelling in the RCIA—Teach Like Jesus.” Click here for more information.