The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, also known as RCIA, is a program oriented towards those searching and inquiring about the Catholic way of life. On Easter Vigil, this year’s candidates at St. Boniface will be initiated into the Church. After 28 weeks of learning, discerning and reflecting on this decision to join the Catholic Church, they will receive two sacraments of initiation: Holy Eucharist and Confirmation. In this group of candidates there is one catechumen. A catechumen is one preparing for baptism in the church.
As my sister-in-law’s sponsor, I have been given the opportunity to go through RCIA and reconnect with many wonderful aspects about our faith, especially the importance of the sacraments. Through this process I’ve been called to reflect on these visible signs of God’s grace and presence in my life. It is through my ministry as the Health Minister at St. Boniface, that I am finding a deeper message – a message that isn’t just about me receiving God in my life, but about showing God’s love to others. God offers his presence in our lives when we open our hearts and receive his grace. In turn He asks us to be present in the lives of others, extending that same kindness and compassion. Through the power of the sacraments, God strengthens us and guides us to care for each other and bring comfort to those who are suffering.
Recently I visited a parishioner who has dementia. I met him over a year ago and have visited him on a regular basis. His kind heart and compassion for others has always been very inspiring. During our time together he would reminisce about his life and how proud he is of his family and his accomplishments. But this recent visit was different. He was confused and didn’t recognize me; he couldn’t put together words to form a sentence. I asked him, as I always did, if he would like to receive Holy Eucharist, and showed him the Blessed Sacrament I was holding in my hand. At that moment I saw a comfort in his eyes; a kind of peace that I can’t explain. Did he remember that I brought him communion before? Or, did he remember the very gift of God’s love that has been a part of his life since he first received the sacrament of Holy Eucharist? I asked him if he would like to pray the Lord’s Prayer. He said yes and began to make the sign of the cross. Then this man who was not able to form a sentence moments before, prayed with me and spoke every word. He received Holy Eucharist, and I felt God’s presence, in my heart and in his. He may never know the blessing he was to me that day. It was a confirmation to me that God is present in the midst of pain and suffering. I am grateful to him for opening my heart to that feeling of peace.
Ironically, this gentleman also went through RCIA, and would often talk about his conversion and how fulfilled he was with his decision to join the Catholic Church.
The message of the Eucharist becomes more enriched when shared with one who is in need of strength, comfort and healing. I feel blessed and truly humbled in these moments when God’s presence is so profound.
This Lenten season our theme is “Be The Message”. We will be asked to consider what this means to us. How can we be the message of Christ’s love? Our Catholic faith emphasizes the importance of using our unique gifts to serve others. I believe it is in these acts of compassion that we can become the message that nourishes the souls of all of us.