3 Apr 2013

My Experience since becoming a new Catholic


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Each year throughout the world many adults become full members of the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil.  The SS102 Team asked one new Catholic who had been through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation on Adults) a couple of years ago to put pen to paper (or at least fingers to keyboard!) to share with us his experience as a new Catholic.  Here is Martin's reflection:

"My experience since becoming a new Catholic has been one of profound joy in deepening my relationship with God. My confirmation and reception into the Church certainly was a new beginning for me, spiritually. But without a path to tread, a daily practice to start after that Easter Sunday, I think my commitment would have withered over time. I knew I needed something to keep me moving forward and there was nothing clearly mapped out by the RCIA process at that time. There was no Neophyte group then. So to stop things becoming static I began to put together my own plan. As I had found my Faith, in the silence, on retreat at Douai Abbey, this seemed to be a good starting place. It was where I had first felt called to join the Church. Talking to the monks, I resolved to make regular retreats as these seem to be my “powerhouse”. But what to do in between those retreats? How to keep moving with the sacraments rather than drift away?

I have found the Rule of Benedict helpful in defining a daily practice. Its approach to blending worship, prayer, work and study appeals to me. The challenge is a difficult one and I fail regularly, practically on a daily basis! But one thing I have learned is just to ask for God’s Grace and it will come. The simple, on-going prayer of asking for God’s Grace, acknowledging I can do nothing without Him. But with His Grace I can achieve anything – and most importantly His will – and this keeps me moving forward.

I also undertook to attend the Monday evening meditation group at the church where I did RCIA as a way of meeting other Christians and to read and discuss the Sunday Gospel. I try to meditate daily, often on the train going into work just to fit it into the day!

I put together a reading list with the help of one of the monks at the Abbey. And we update this regularly according to my progress. I found Pope Benedict’s books “Jesus of Nazareth” excellent for someone in my position. I also found my Diocese to be very helpful here too. For example when I reached out to them for guidance the Archbishop’s Private Secretary, gave me a good reading list which I knew I could trust.

My parish priest has introduced me to a number of people in my local Church so I have got to know some people in the parish. Frankly, one of the challenging areas has been making Catholic friends. I am married with children so it’s not that I am look for a social life! But it’s just good to have people you can talk to about the Church.

The best opportunities for talking to fellow Catholics about Faith and prayer practice have been on retreats. Now, the new Neophyte group changes the game here. It’s not only a group of fellow Catholics but we are all recent converts so we have a lot in common. It also gives a structured path of training in the Faith and it’s a safe place to ask questions! Having access to knowledgeable Catholics, including the three priests and the catechists is a great privilege. I see the bishops are considering how to reach out to keep people alive to their faith and also to “lapsed Catholics”. It seems to me that having some kind of fellowship, so you feel you belong to the Church as a family, is one way to do this. You can map out your own journey and connect with others on their journey. We can learn a lot from each other. For me the Neophyte group is a good place to be amongst friends where we can discuss our Faith and ask questions.

It also helps to go through some topics, in further depth than time allows in RCIA. For example the Sacrament of Reconciliation session was excellent.

Becoming a Catholic is one of the best things I have ever done but I know I need to keep moving forward in the Faith. I’m sure the path is never an easy one, but the journey has to be easier with the support of fellow pilgrims."

Martin

25 March 2013 

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