A New Year, A New Life

Well, the ball is in my court. I talked to the priest after RCIA last week and told him I'd discovered that the "normal" way of entry to the Catholic Church for a faithful churchgoer like me is to just join -- no RCIA necessary. He agreed. So whenever I'm ready, I can just go to confession and take first communion.

I'm torn. I believe in the Church. I want to be part of it. It kills me to sit there during Mass and not be able to physically receive Jesus in the Eucharist. So I should just join and everything will be perfect, right? But there's a part of me that loves the idea of this waiting time as a time of penance, preparation and reflection. The build-up to Easter Vigil, the significance of my spiritual renewal in God's Church conjoined with Jesus' Resurrection -- the symbolism is great, and imbues this rite of passage with much meaning and drama.

So, to wait and reflect, or jump in with both feet on faith. That is the question. In the interest of family unity, I'm leaning toward doing this sooner rather than later. My son was baptized on New Year's Eve (a joyous occasion it was!), and my husband, of course, is ready to come "home" as soon as we cen get our marriage convalidated (the "living as brother and sister" idea was a bit much for him, so he's waiting to take communion until we're "legal"). So we meet with the priest as a family on February 2, and we'll make all the arrangements then.

It's so strange to think of how different my life will be. Catholicism, this ancient, alien (to me) faith, will now be a part of the rhythm of our daily lives. It will dictate how we spend our Sundays, affect how we make love and plan for children, cost us a fortune in Catholic school tuition if we choose to go that route . . .

But it will also unify us with a body of believers around the world who all live with that same rhythm. We can go on vacation in Europe or South America or Australia and worship the same way we do at home. Have you ever noticed how very American most non-denominational protestant churches are? It's hard to picture the format translating elsewhere, even as the world becomes smaller and more interconnected. But the Catholic, or universal Church transcends both nationality and culture. It's centered on one thing, which is the weekly acceptance of Christ by His people in a tangible form given and commanded by the Lord Himself. The Eucharist is the same in every language and every culture. It is Jesus, come to save.

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