After nine months of classes and spiritual formation, adults all over the world will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church during Saturday’s Easter Vigil. I felt very blessed to serve as a director and an instructor in the RCIA program at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, and I can say without reservation that it is one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. I am sure any person who participates in RCIA in one way or another would agree with me. To witness the journey that adults from different faiths travel to become Catholic, and especially to hear the powerful and inspiring reasons why they feel at home in the Catholic Church, reminds me of God’s infinite love for each one of us. The candidates’ and catechumens’ journey, however, is really the journey of all Christians as well.
God created each one of us with an innate desire to know Him intimately and to love Him with our entire being. No matter how much a person might stray from this purpose or falls down, he or she is still walking with God, because God never abandons us.
Over the last nine months, the candidates and catechumens committed themselves to discerning how God is calling them to service. God calls each one of us, as well, and like the candidates and catechumens, we, too, are asked to discover how we can serve Him. The process that the candidates and catechumens have undergone has been one of growth and self-awareness. The RCIA classes have centered on theology and spirituality, with the goal of growing closer to God in everyday life. The transformation and healing of the candidates and catechumens serve as further evidence of what God can do to the loving and willing heart.
It is most appropriate that the Easter Vigil is the time in which the candidates and catechumens enter the Church. Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead, and so are we! At our Baptism we accepted the New Life of Christ. Our washing was itself a symbol of dying to a dead world and rising to a new life. We took upon ourselves the commitment to live this new life. We took upon ourselves the responsibility to spread this new life. We took upon ourselves the obligation to allow Christ to use us to transform the world. Jesus has called us out of this darkness and death and given us each the ability to make his presence real for others. If we just allow God to work through us, if we just strive to be that unique reflection of His love He created each of us to be, then we will come out of the tomb with Him and live eternally. Our lives have meaning, purpose, and beauty when they are united to His Life.
The catechumens and candidates commit themselves to being the light of Jesus in the world, especially in those areas where there is no light. They are called to live the teachings of the Church and to live their life according to Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. Most of all, however, God calls them and every Christian to live as Jesus did, especially with the humility and service He displayed when he washed the Apostles’ feet. We were not baptized to be irrelevant! God has a plan for each of us, and we are called to spend the rest of our lives discovering and living out the dream God has for us. We should not be afraid to step out of our comfort zone, because it is only with courage that we can realize how gifted we are. If we answer God’s call, we will be the light of Christ, and we will discover the many ways God shares His love and grace with us.
If you ever feel like your faith is being tested or are not sure how you will overcome a challenge in your life, think about a priest about whom I heard who was living with multiple sclerosis. As he began to walk to the pulpit from his chair to deliver the homily during Mass, he fell down. He raised himself up by holding on to the altar. He said, “I think I will deliver the homily holding on to the altar, because if I let go, I will fall down.” Then, he paused, and said, “I believe I just delivered my homily.” The Resurrection of Jesus, which Pope John Paul II called “the strength, the secret of Christianity,” is our altar. Christ’s Resurrection is who we are. The Power of the Cross has transformed the world, and as we become one with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, His Body and Blood, may we always remember that all that is worthwhile comes from God and returns to God.
-Deacon Mike McGrath is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Savannah. He ministers to the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities at St. Matthew Catholic Church (Statesboro, GA). He is married to his beautiful wife Leticia, and they are the parents of Matthew, who is 13, and Luke, who is 12. Deacon Mike is the editor of the book Answering the Call: How God Transformed the Lives of Nineteen Catholic Deacons.