Skip to content

Archive for May, 2011


Finally Home…

Last night Michelle and I attended our first Mass at our home parish, it also happened to the the first communion service for some of the kids. It was treat to watch them go through the process, and receive their first communion. For us it was like coming home, although I was nervous I would do something stupid, I was still looking forward to the experience.

It’s been a week since confirmation, and we’ve had time to let it all sink in and settle a bit. I have a better grasp on it now, I’m over the shell shock portion. And I think I can rely our impressions…

But before I say anything, I must say that the people who hosted this RCIA did a fabulous job. Corralling 180 people (and more at times) through this process, is no simple feat. They have been gracious and welcoming, and made the process easier. We even had a couple in the service last night, and they warmly greeted us on the way out. I’m sure they feel proud, and they should.

Confirmation Sunday, was a blur of emotion. It was like being in the center of a tornado, locked to a chair with no way to get out. From the moment we arrived, I felt the pressure of what we where about to do. In all honesty I felt fully unprepared, we were supposed to ring the bells during the Gloria. I had no idea why, no one explained it to me or what it actually meant. So I was handed a bell and then told to keep it quiet until the right time, when the gloria finally came it seemed silly to sit and make a ruckus without really knowing why. In all honesty I didn’t even ring mine, I was more focused on getting through the actual confirmation, and not screwing up my first eucharist.

The church for some reason was very warm, I was wearing a tie and jacket, that along with cold feet (hey, I got them when I got married 26 years ago as well). Had me sweltering, I would have given anything to remove the tie. I was also a little miffed that even given our very explicit directions on dress atire, that my sponsor and a number of my fellow RCIA members didn’t follow the rules. Which made me feel more uncomfortable being paraded down the aisle, especially since the church was packed (and this is a BIG church). And quite honestly I felt lost and overwhelmed, we didn’t do much prep time, and I have never seen a confirmation so it was all new to me.

As we waited for confirmation, the RCIA team members kept up the cheerleading banter. I know they where trying to be helpful, but I felt like I was 10 years old and about to make the speech of my life. It didn’t help, and for my part, added more to my dilemma about what I was doing there. There was a point to be perfectly honest, where I considered getting up and leaving. I never wanted a grand entrance, I hate them with a passion. There was too much focus placed on the ceremony, so much so, that I didn’t really have time to sit and fully examine how I felt. And no one asked, so at one point I questioned if this was the right thing to do. I don’t like feeling pressured, I need time to work through things on my own, at my pace. Had Michelle not been there, I would have not made the whole thing. She is able to read my thoughts, and simply held my hand and kept me calm. I followed her lead through most of the process.

At one point before the Eucharist, they sang a song about our love for Christ (I’ll get to the band in a minute). Our sponsor who is a good Christian man, broke down into sobbing. I am not the most emotional person in the world, and my experience with religion and emotion has not always been good. He was sobbing so hard that at one point I wasn’t sure if we be able to go on, it was… uncomfortable to say the least.

When it was all said and done, and we finished the service. They marched us back out first, so everyone could get a good look at us. We stayed long enough to thank everyone, and then headed home. Emotionally, and physically exhausted. I didn’t get a beam of light, or a revelation when I partook of the sacraments. And again I would have been more moved with a small, quiet ceremony, but I’m changing as I get older and what I once enjoyed in worship. I no longer find tolerable.

In reflecting on the whole experience, it was way to heavy on the ceremonial side. There was too much noise, too much pomp. Right at the end of our RCIA experience we began to grow frustrated with the lack of depth, and I started reading up on other peoples experiences. One common complaint is that the RCIA is so focused on the experience, that they miss the heart of the RCIA’s purpose. I would agree, but I would be very careful to not blame the laity or the priests. We had the opportunity to visit another RCIA program, and to our shock they asked the same silly questions. What we learned was that both programs come from a book that has all those dratted questions pre-canned. It explains a great deal, if you take a 2 hour program. Spend 45 minutes on the basics, 10 on announcements, 15 on a break. Then the rest on meaningless questions like “How do you feel about the incarnation?, in my view. You’ve waisted roughly half your class time on non-essentials. That’s a travesty!! I repeatedly read people saying that nine months is not enough time, I disagree. It’s plenty of time, *IF* you spend it wisely, and don’t turn the RCIA into a social based feelings program with a little Catechesis thrown in for good measure.

The other part where I’m going to come clean, is that I honestly could have waited longer. There’s more to know and learn about the faith, and I’d like the time to study it. But I in all honesty could not stomach another nine months of endless questions about my feelings!, Michelle felt exactly the same way. So like so many others who have come into the Church, we gritted our teeth and got through the process. I’m glad we did, last nights mass was a blessing to us, and I told Michelle that I want to make sure we celebrate that every weekend without fail.

Finally, one issue that has bothered me is the lack of reverence that I see happening in the Mass. At the confirmation, there was a full band. Electric guitar, drums, bass, the whole ensemble. But to my ears, it was so protestant that it hurt. Our parish has just a piano and the cantor, which to my aging ears sounds just fine. But the other thing that shocked me, was how some people dress for the mass. There have been times I wish we had a bunch of Nuns with rulers to restore a little reverence to the proceedings. I guess we have become so welcoming that we don’t want to offend, but camouflage shorts DO NOT belong at mass. I know there is a huge debate about the vatican II mass, and it’s problems. I’m not saying we go back, but somewhere, someone has to start laying down at least a little conformity. We can do it gently, but if the Mass is the cornerstone of our faith, then we should *expect* anyone attending to show some respect. Just a little would go a long ways.

We have been blessed by being able to finally join the Church, the journey is just starting. But I no longer feel like an interloper at service anymore, and God has been good us with this new parish.

Now back to my studies :)