I would like to continue with musings on the RCIA. When I was in Seattle presenting the "Rebuild Your RCIA" day, I asked the participants to complete this phrase: "The RCIA is . . ." Then, after we shared those responses, I asked them to reflect on this phrase: "The goal of the RCIA is . . ."
It was a helpful exercise. The responses to the second reflection went something like this:
- to deepen a relationship with Jesus
- to build community
- to foster relationships
I guess I was looking for more, so I asked if anyone had any loftier goals for the RCIA. There were three young adult men (all of whom had recently become Catholic through the RCIA in the past few years) present, sitting together in the back of the room. One raised his hand and said, "Loftier goal? How about salvation!"
That's exactly where I was hoping someone would take us in our discussion. The previous responses were all surely related to the loftier goal, but they seemed more like means to achieving the end.
In a society that is filled with messages telling us where we can find salvation (at Best Buy, at the Cadillac dealer, among many others), I think it is wise for us to be very up front about what the goal of the RCIA is: the joining of a long line of pilgrims marching from the baptism font here on earth to the banquet that is to come in the kingdom of heaven. And that pilgrimage, filled with joys and sorrows, marked by detours and redirections, characterized by signs of contradiction, is surely the only journey that really matters in this life. Just doesn't seem to me that you can get that point across in a series of lectures. We have to help people rehearse their pilgrimage steps as they head to font, oil, and eucharistic table. And, hopefully and eventually, to the kingdom of heaven.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.