More fun with RCIA

My second class was last night. I think I'm the "problem child."

I'm having a hard time clarifying the questions I'm asking. I'll ask the Priest where the doctrine that Mary is the "New Eve" comes from, and he starts making assumptions about why I'm asking the question, and starts answering as if I am a run-of-the-mill, rather uneducated protestant who just can't get past "the Mary thing." He doesn't know I'm a theology junkie and that I have already made the hurdle into accepting, more or less, the doctrines of the Church about Mary and everything else. What I want to know is where those doctrines come from. The doctrine of the "New Eve" had to have started somewhere, and since it is not explained in Scripture, I would like to know which Church Fathers nailed it down, so to speak, so I can read their conclusions in their own words. I want to have more than a blind faith. I want to know how the Church came to the decisions it did. Not so I can reject them, but so I can understand them.

Likewise, it's frustrating to me that everyone else assumes I'm starting at the beginning (though I know that's a natural assumption in RCIA). So many people keep asking me "Have you read Scott Hahn?" YES, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I HAVE READ SCOTT HAHN, I DON'T LIKE HIM, AREN'T THERE ANY OTHER CATHOLIC FORMER-PROTESTANT AUTHORS YOU CAN RECOMMEND?!!!!! I have had visions of taking a Scott Hahn book with me everywhere I go and using it to whomp the head of the next person who asks me if I've read him. I don't know why Catholics seem to think Hahn's writing is some kind of "magic bullet" that no protestant can resist. I find other authors (Patrick Madrid, Mark Shea) much more persuasive. Scott Hahn doesn't explain anything! His conversion story is (paraphrased): "I went to Mass thinking it was Satanic, but it was Biblical and then I realized that the Eucharist really IS Jesus." No further explanation necessary, apparently, as to how it is Biblical or what made him realize Jesus was present. Oh well, I'm sure it makes perfect sense to him.

On the bright side (and I hate to even say anything because I am afraid of jinxing it), I think I may have found a friend for life in the RCIA coordinator. She's about my age (mid-to-late twenties), a former protestant who converted last Easter, and used to attend a church that is a like a smaller clone of my old mega-church. She's also a theology junkie like me! After class, we were standing outside with another woman who is a religious neophyte. We were going on about consubstantiation vs. transubstantiation, NAB vs. RSV and Evangelicalism vs. Catholicism and this poor lady is looking at us like, "Whoa, what have I gotten myself into?" We started comparing the height of the stacks of books beside our beds, then started comparing titles -- we're definitely two of a kind. I haven't had a conversation that enjoyable with someone other than my husband since I-don't-know-when.

She scared me a little, though, when she told me that her small group from the evangelical church literally sat her down and had an intervention when she confessed she was joining the Catholic church. They had Bibles open, pointing out different things, begging her to reconsider. I see this in my future, too, especially from the ex-Catholics in my group. But my new friend told me that even after her conversion, she is still close to those women and she's hoping to convert them. That was reassuring.

Anyway, I'm meeting one-on-one with the Priest on Wednesday evening. In the interest of not monopolizing any more class time than necessary with my overly specific, esoteric lines of questioning, I will hit him with as many questions as I can in 45 minutes. He seems like a genuine guy, and one who isn't afraid of questioning. I am amazed at all he does. He's the parish's only priest, and he does everything. RCIA, other classes, Masses, visiting the sick, counseling, marriages, baptisms, confessions, one-on-one meetings with the likes of me. He gets up at 3:30 or 4 in the morning to pray. Masses, meetings and other responsibilities keep him booked from 6 am until 11 pm. Plus he has a mom and siblings to think of. God's grace must be with this man, or else I can't imagine how he survives (well, other than a veritable IV drip of Diet Dr. Pepper, which he guzzled throughout RCIA last night).

This is really long, but I have to address one last thing: some of you were wondering how Mass went on Sunday. I think I'll save it for a separate post. It was awesome. Truly. But I think I need to go again before I can really write about it. There's a lot to absorb.

Thanks for reading and praying for me.


Anonymous cjmr said...

I know what you mean about questions being answered as if you had asked a different question. In college I was always the problem student that listened to the other students' questions, listened to the answer they got, and then (when it was obvious that the student hadn't had the question they thought they had asked, answered) rephrased the question just enough to get the professor to actually give the answer they were looking for. I think the profs hated it.

I looked it up in a book that I found helpful at the start of my inquiry (Where is That in the Bible?) but it doesn't address Mary as the New Eve, and I missed that part of the class Sunday because of my interview with the deacon. So I'm interested to hear what you find out.


11/15/2005 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Ohmygosh... I know EXACTLY how you feel! I have been the 'problem child' in RCIA before myself... They simply don't know what to DO with you... and it is hard to meet the needs of those like us if there is a big group, they usually ARE religious neophytes. They always misunderstand what you are asking because they don't know where you've been and assume that you are also a neophyte... Tracy says your priest needs to do some reading in LL so he can understand what you need, and what you are used to!

I'm so glad you found a kindred spirit... Sounds like you are 'one of the GIRLS!' By the way, stacks of books? I can't even SEE my NIGHT TABLE... I know it is still there because the lamp is still at the right height! lol...

Looking forward to your post on Mass... and rejoicing over your journey!

11/15/2005 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't enjoy Scott Hahn's reads either. I do like audio CDs. You might try www.saintjoe.com for a vast selection that will make you broke! Ken Hensley is especially good, Michael Barber, Tim Staples. Try Peter Kreeft & Alan Schreck for books & a great book called Why Do Catholics DO That? by Kevin Orlin Johnson.
As for RCIA, I'm glad you met a kindred spirit. RCIA may frustrate you because, just like in public school, they teach to the slowest student and most are not as astute as you are.
Prayers for you....

11/16/2005 12:10:00 AM  

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