I am gearing up to begin a new year of RCIA here in a little over a week. It’s always around this time that I start getting excited for what’s to come. My class size varies every year, but no matter the size, each person who goes through the process ends up becoming a beautiful witness to the faith. I have the incredible honor of watching so many people gain knowledge of Church teachings and of God’s plan for salvation, and as their hearts open to Him in love I am inspired in my own pursuit of faith.

Each person who enters into the RCIA program has a unique reason for doing so, and the process is quite the journey.

They have to attend a two hour night class on a weekly basis for roughly nine months, and they have to be open and willing to learn about the faith and to ask hard questions.  They are called to develop a life of prayer, and to examine their old way of living and thinking in the light of Christ’s teachings.  Ultimately, they will have to make the decision, prayerfully guided by God, to either enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, or not.

The process can be quite daunting.  Some are seeking the faith after years spent in other denominations. Some have little to no background in catechesis, and are barely getting to know the Lord. Some are seeking more information–perhaps reluctantly–out of respect for their spouse’s Catholic faith. There are many different circumstances that lead people to the Church, and each person’s commitment to learning and growing is so inspiring.

After the scandal hit, it didn’t take me long to realize that the current crisis will have a powerful impact on those considering joining the Catholic Church. Many who were previously considering entering into the Church were just as scandalized by the crisis as the faithful were.  Perhaps more. The scandal quite possibly turned many people away.  (I pray to God it didn’t.) For those still pursuing the faith, the seriousness of their discernment should not go unnoticed. In light of this scandal, I can only imagine the scrutiny that the Catechumen and Candidates will have to face as they work to follow God’s will for their lives.

In the current climate, they will definitely have to answer for why they are becoming Catholic. They will face countless questions and even ridicule.  They will face obstacles in their search and will encounter people who want to convince them that they are making a huge mistake. Yet, I believe now more than ever, the people called to the Church will be throwing themselves into the process with reckless abandon to God’s will. It’s always a time of great reflection and discernment, but the circumstances in today’s Church will make the process all the more rich.

It is with that same seriousness that we the faithful should be evaluating our life of faith right now. In the wake of the crisis, all of us will have to answer for our faith–both on a personal level, and on a public level.

When people find out that you are Catholic, they are going to question you.  You may face ridicule and mocking for remaining in a Church that appears so confused, wrong, broken, and steeped in sin.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, and if you don’t have a good understanding of Church teachings and the faith, how will you be able to withstand the criticism?

You are going to have to answer for your faith. 

Now, more than ever, you will be called to be a witness. 

If you have been lukewarm in your beliefs and practices, it is time to get heated.

All of us were impacted by the scandal that’s hit, and you can either let your anger for the situation in the Church be the fuel to move you out the door, or you can use it to ignite your faith and defend the Church’s beauty in righteousness and justice.

Now is the time to learn your faith and live it well.

If you struggle with prayer, discipline yourself and begin.

If you haven’t gone to Confession in a while, it’s time to examine yourself and go.

If you don’t read Scripture, learn how and make it a priority.

If you aren’t going to Mass, get there no matter what.

Consecrate yourself to Jesus through His Mother.

Read books about the faith, especially the Catechism.

If you need to, find a course on the faith.

Work hard to reach out to other Catholics and build community. Build friendships, because in holy, Christian friendship, we will build up the Body of Christ with communal goodness and shared love for the Lord.

Be prepared with a thoughtful and heartfelt answer when someone asks you why you are still Catholic.

I think Bishop Barron’s words adequately sum it up, and I pray they become an anthem for all of us who remain in love and dedication in the Church:

“We’re Catholics because of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.  We’re Catholic because of the Trinitarian love of God. We’re Catholics because of the Eucharist.  We’re Catholics because of the Blessed Mother. We’re Catholics because of the saints.  Even as leaders of the Church fail morally, the Catholic Church remains the Mystical Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ.” 

In the next few weeks I will be writing about ways that you can work on your life of faith.  I’ve received a lot of feedback on areas of struggle, and I’m excited to offer advice, and resources to help you.

If your knowledge of Scripture is limited; if you haven’t been partaking in the Sacraments and don’t really know where or how to begin; if your life of prayer is underdeveloped; if you feel lost and overwhelmed by all of it…know that you are not alone.

I’d love to help you find your footing.

Christ is starving for your attention and love.  The Church is in need of you.  Hang with me, and let’s work together to build up the Church in faith rooted in great love for Christ.

Let us not be afraid to do hard things for Christ with great love!

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