While this is my second year in full time parish ministry, it’s my first accompanying a group of catechumens as they journey to the Easter sacraments. While I did provide some assistance with various RCIA programs as a seminarian, it was never my main placement. Last year, we had no one in RCIA proper, and as wonderful as it was to prepare some unconfirmed Catholic adults to receive that sacrament, I’m discovering that this is something else. I have not been this involved with this journey towards Easter initiation since I entered the church as an adult myself.
Journeying with our catechumens has been a renewal for me, a transforming remembrance of all the stumbling ways I gradually discerned God’s call to me: the first awareness that there was a call, that God was not distant but intimately connected with every dimension of my life, willing happiness for me, and acting to help lead me toward it. I remember the first stirrings of compunction, that sense of being ‘pricked’ by sin, that there were concrete things I was doing that were making it harder for me to be led where my loving master was calling. I remember the growing awe that I was not alone in those pin-pricks of sin, that Christ allowed what pricked me to wound him and, in his woundedness, conquer and rise and act to lead me to rise with him! I remember the beginning of the awareness that I needed to gather with other believers in prayer and fellowship, and quit trying to row my own boat. I remember my amazement when I first attended Mass and discovered something undeniably new that compelled me to return. I remember when I realized just how close to Christ I could draw in the sacraments and when God granted me just enough humility to admit that I needed them and I needed to ask.
And I remember that my discernment of God’s will is just as stumbling today. His ways are still far above my ways. But, I also remember all that He has done to lead me along the pilgrimage, and I marvel. The simultaneous awareness of what getting mixed up in this God stuff has done to me, and how much work there is left to do, is at the heart of our experience as Christian disciples. And our catechumens have helped re-awaken that awareness in me.
When I first did communion visits to the homebound, the summer before my novitiate, I learnt something new about hunger for the Sacraments. I learnt about the universality of my hunger for Eucharist, and I was renewed in my sense that God might be calling me to help him feed those who hunger. In working with RCIA, I’ve learnt something new about thirst for baptism, and excitement about confirmation. I’ve learnt a new found appreciation for my own. And I’ve rejoiced that God has called me to welcome people in his name!
Fr. Adam Booth, C.S.C. was ordained a priest with the Congregation of Holy Cross in the Spring of 2014. He is currently serving as an Associate Pastor to the Holy Cross & St. Stanislaus Parish Communities in South Bend, Indiana.