Why do people continue to enter the Church if an increasing number of those within the fold are choosing to walk away? As noted earlier this week from Pew research more and more people are entering the category of “None” in regard to their religious affiliation. Will the neophytes make it for the long haul, or will a significant percentage of them enter the “None” category within a year or two?
One of the participants in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) labeled the experience as “fun.” I had never heard that word used as a descriptive when discussing anything about church. I usually hear dull, boring, and lifeless. So I asked for some specific examples of what this individual found to be fun. It came down to the relationships that had been developed. There was a new-found relationship with God and a bonding with the other participants of RCIA. It was fun. Wonderful!
I strive to make the last gathering an exciting and fun endeavor as well. There is a yearning inside me to conduct a full six-week Life In The Spirit Seminar and cram it into this one 90 minute session. However, I refrain from that attempt, but cover a lot of ground nonetheless. I pose a multitude of questions and explore a broad spectrum of topics. Although there is still some hesitation to engage vibrantly in the discussions, eventually the ball gets rolling and the impact of being initiated into the Church begins to be revealed. Here is a condensed list of some of the questions I toss out to the group:
1. What has been your experience since the Easter Vigil?
2. Have you spent any time reflecting on the gift of faith?
3. Do you worship with full, conscious, and active participation at the Eucharistic liturgy?
4. Do you take time for daily prayer? Are you disciplined in this practice?
5. Do you read, reflect, and pray with the Sacred Scriptures?
6. Have you spent any additional time reflecting on the Creed?
7. Have you continued to learn and grow in your knowledge of the faith?
8. Have you opened the door of faith for others?
9. How are you serving the poor and marginalized members of society?
10. Are you sincerely seeking holiness in your life?
The promise of Pentecost isn’t just for the neophytes. It is for all of us. Do we truly believe the Scriptures? “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Are we walking in that power? Do we believe that we will do the works Jesus did, and greater still, because He has gone to the Father? (See John 14:12) Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10) Let's have the courage to start living like we believe it!
Come Holy Spirit!