If I asked you what Pope Francis said in his speech to the U.S. Congress last September, I’ll bet most of you couldn’t tell me. But if I asked what kind of car he drove off in after the speech, most of you will remember it was a tiny black Fiat. The Fiat made more headlines and certainly garnered more photo ops than did the pope’s 50-minute speech.
Simplify for the sake of the poor
A massive, bulletproof limousine that could double as a mobile office, like the one that transported Vice President Biden along the same route, might seem to be a better choice for a world leader. But even before he was pope, Francis’s message has been that we have to simplify our lives. He is asking us to look at the luxury in our own lives from the eyes of the poor and disenfranchised. Our steps toward simplicity, however small, are acts of mercy toward those on the margins.
I believe we have to apply this call to simplicity to our RCIA processes. Many of us are waiting for more of something we don’t currently have before we move on some important aspect of our initiation ministry. For example, the biggest gap I see is most parishes is a lack of true evangelization. The first phase of RCIA is the period of evangelization. If we are waiting to evangelize until we have “enough” (enough of what, I wonder?), we cannot even start the RCIA process.
Another gap is the lack of an ongoing dismissal ritual from every Sunday Mass for the catechumens. We hesitate because we don’t have enough leaders, enough buy-in, enough support.
And many parishes are waiting to extend their initiation ministry into every day of the year until they have enough—enough catechists, enough sponsors, enough inquirers.
Going to the margins every day
If we take Pope Francis seriously, we only need a little—a little Fiat—to have a full, rich, complete initiation ministry. By focusing on what we do have, and using the things God has already given us, we can develop an initiation ministry that seeks out those on the margins every day.
A little-Fiat ministry won’t look anything like the bulletproof-limousine ministry of the rich mega-parish on the other side of the diocese. But it will get you down the same route just as effectively, maybe even more effectively.
Let it be done
Many people believe the pope chose a Fiat because it is an Italian-made car. But I also think he chose that car because of its name. Fiat means “let it be done.” We speak about Mary’s fiat, which was her response to the angel that announced to her the good news that she would give birth to Jesus.
Mary did not have enough. She had no money, no status, no job. She didn’t even have a husband. She didn’t say to the angel the she’d be ready after she got married and built up a little nest egg. She said, “Fiat!”
We have to stop waiting until we have “enough.” Our RCIA ministries have to begin to imitate Pope Francis and Mary. We have to start with a little fiat.
What do you think?
What are you waiting for in your RCIA ministry? What could you start doing today if you prayerfully answered “fiat” to God’s call?