I’ve been to church twice in one day before, but never like this.
Today we enrolled our names in the Book of the Elect (for those of us who are catechumens and have never been baptized) and were recognized by our brand new church family with the candidates. This was the first time we processed into mass, so things were a little confusing at first… actually, we were kind of confused throughout the morning, but that’s just a testament of how new we all are at this. My best friend and I are going through RCIA together, so we walked together with our sponsor (who gave us these adorable bookmarks for our Bibles!). We sat in the very front row and our sponsors sat behind us.
On Ash Wednesday, my friend and I talked about how surreal it seemed that Lent was already here. Morning mass reinforced that times ten as our RCIA director called us up to be presented to everyone — we were so nervous, all of these people — our church family — are looking at and welcoming us! We wrote our names in the book to be presented to the bishop this afternoon at the cathedral and our sponsors affirmed that we were ready for this step. It’s hard to believe that we’re embarking on this journey for real already. As Father explained it this morning, as of today we are considered Catholic. We’ll just take part in the sacraments for the first time at Easter Vigil.
At the cathedral, catechumens and candidates from all over the diocese were there. We were presented to the bishop and everyone present as two separate groups, the bishop signed the books of the elect, and then each RCIA class took pictures with the bishop to be published in the diocesan newspaper. After that was when we started bumping into people we knew that we had no idea were there — friends from school and work and a lady and her daughter who we had no idea were in RCIA at the cathedral!
Aside from being the first Sunday of Lent and all the goings on involving us, today was just incredibly different than any other Sunday I can remember. It… felt different, and some really special things happened to us this morning. I have trouble understanding speech in a lot of different situations, and at church I usually pick up every fourth or fifth word during the homily. Today, I heard every word (granted, being in the front row might have had a lot to do with it) and understood everything that was being said — and this really rocked my world. Something very special happened to my friend, too. During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, she saw a golden glow come over the Body of Christ and the Precious Blood… She’s seen something like this before at mass, too, but as she told me, never like this, and never as strongly.
Our RCIA class doesn’t meet next week, but Father mentioned something at our last meeting that would happen at the second Sunday of Lent, so… who knows what will happen next Sunday. I don’t think the scrutinies start until the third Sunday.
I’m not very close to my actual family, so when I first started reading about the Catholic faith, the idea of the church as family fascinated me. Today, it feels a little bit more like family, and more amazing than ever. I can’t wait to see what happens next week at mass.
(Reposted from March 13, 2011.)