We trekked 90 minutes west to the cathedral in Peoria, IL for the RCIA Rite of Election.
Sometimes I wonder, in the midst of all the scandals, negative press, and misconceptions touted as fact, will people still want to join the Church?
Will they come seeking the Truth the Church has to offer, or will it be obscured by falsehoods and misunderstandings?
There, amid a packed church that seats over 1,500, my faith in the Church was renewed.
The Rite of Election wasn’t always so easy
The Rite of Election is a carry over from a more ancient time. A time of hidden mysteries and persecutions.
In the early Church, candidates for Christianity were screened for their readiness. It wasn’t just an automatic. They had to show by their actions they took to heart what they were learning.
The bishop questioned candidates on the kind of life they led. Were they still getting drunk at the pagan festivals? Did they still go to the public baths? In other words, was there a change?
And, he didn’t just take their word. Someone trusted in the community, a sponsor, had vouch for this change of life.
But still they came
Very much like today, the culture was hostile toward anything Christian.
But in those days, it was downright risky to become a Catholic. The whim of an emperor turned you into an outlaw.
And still they came…in droves. Drawn out of the world to follow Christ’s radical call, they joined a religion that might mean their untimely death.
They came searching for something not found in the world. For the promise of “the good life” elusive to all but the elite and noble. For a peace not of this world that still eludes the wealthy, powerful, and lustful who are blinded to the reality of something more than this life.
And despite the problems, they still come
And, like last weekend, they still come
It never ceases to amaze me that, even with the Church’s problems plastered all over the media, the same number of people call me every year about joining the Church.
Despite the scandal of child sexual abuse, they come.
Despite the scoffs of popular media that portray the Church as medieval and barbaric, they come.
Despite the derision of gay marriage proponents and rampant misconceptions circulated about Catholic belief, they come.
They come from different backgrounds. Some searching for what’s missing in their lives. Some to find peace. Often they’re looking to make sense of inconsistencies in their protestant understanding of God. And more often they want to rekindle the smoldering embers of a grandmother’s faith that was abandoned long ago by their parents.
It hit me as I watched them in the cathedral, they were full of joy at the prospect of joining the Church. Excited. Elated. The pageantry and fanfare of the bishop’s opening procession drowned out the naysayers and pundits of the secular media.
They were overwhelmed with beauty.
Because they find truth and the power to live fully
Joining the Catholic Church is not easy. It never was. The Church wasn’t popular in ancient times and it still is not today.
So, why do they still come? Because they recognize Truth.
The Church is ancient. But in that ancientness is the vein of golden truth that stretches back through the millennia to the time when God walked the earth and taught.
Jesus left the apostles power and authority to preach the truth and make people children of God. And, they passed on that power and authority to their successors. It’s not a human construct. It’s a spiritual and divine reality.
The Church is a solid rock pounded by the swirling tide of change. The still point of the turning world. This is where teaching of the apostles can still be found–developed but unaltered.
And so, they still come…even though half of the country writes Catholics off as anachronistic. The Church will thrive because people will always long for and recognize the truth.
For meaning, purpose, truth, and the power to live fully, they will continue to come.
Did you become Catholic as an adult or do you know someone that did? What drew you/them to the Catholic Faith? Tell me about it in the comments.