JP and I attended our first (of this time through) RCIA class on Thursday.
As I walked in, Eucharistic Adoration was occurring to the side of the sanctuary, and I just had this draw that I wanted to go there. I wanted to be in the presence of Jesus and worship. With the silence and the candles and the altar and His True Presence in front of us… if that is what really occurs, then I understand why Catholics wonder why any Christian wouldn’t want to experience that so frequently. If you actually have the ability to be in the presence of Jesus himself, physically, in today’s world… any Christian who believed that would come running and kneeling before Him.
In the class, there were 4 people involved in leading it, and the subject was on the process of bringing the body and soul into worship through the different symbols and gestures. Mostly, these are areas that I am easily comfortable with, other than understanding how different sacraments give different graces. Because in the “Once Saved Always Saved” Protestant background I am coming from, you kind of get all the grace at once. So it’s just a big mental shift and something not super easy to conceptualize.
One of the men leading RCIA put it in a way that was helpful to understand. I do think I can agree that I think the idea that a person has the ability to choose to follow God, or to not follow God, every moment of every day of their life. I don’t think it makes logical sense that God would give someone the gift of salvation and then refuse to let them discard that gift if they chose their own will over God’s. Then it is no longer a free choice. The idea of needing to choose every moment of our lives who we will serve just makes more intuitive sense in relation to this tension I feel, living every day. Working out my salvation through my whole life just seems to be what I have been and will continue doing until the day I meet my Lord. And I think there is this idea in the Protestant circles I am in that God is going to do all the work of sanctifying you… like as though it is something that happens to us, but it’s God that does all of it. I don’t understand the theology behind it thoroughly, and, yes, God does help us learn to be more like him, but I can’t agree that the Christian faith walk isn’t this “hands-off” thing. Our bodies, minds, and souls, should be actively engaged in this sanctification process. And in saying that, I think I probably sound more like a Catholic than a Protestant.
To quote Scott Hahn, “Grace is not something that is done to us; rather, grace is the supernatural life of the Trinity planted deep within our souls so that God can make his home within us.”
All this to say, the people in that class were not afraid to take on the questions asked by myself and others. And there were really good, thorough responses to the questions that were brought up. It was a stark contrast to the membership class at our current church, where we asked about once Saved Always Saved, and the teacher that day gave us a one-line verse to support his conclusion, a verse that we didn’t even get the context for at all to even evaluate if the verse meant to say what he was claiming it said. Clearly those who understand the Catholic church well and can articulate the beliefs are both calm and confident of the wisdom and logic of the theology behind the beliefs and practices.