It has been a long day for Eric and I. Today, for RCIA, we spent all day at church (from 8 am until around 4:15/4:30). And, although I am exhausted now, it was a really rewarding day. And, it went MUCH faster than I thought it would!
Our day started at Mass. I will admit that we were TOTALLY confused when we walked in and Father was reading the Gospel. We were curious, “Aren’t we just a couple of minutes late???” But, then we realized that there were two Gospels today, and one of them was at the beginning of the Mass.
We left part of the way through, as always, and had a discussion about the gospel, the passion, and the other two readings. Admittedly, it looked like everyone was a bit on the tired side, as this was earlier than any of us usually go to Mass.
We then had breakfast, and got to start snacking on all of the wonderful things that all of the candidates and the elect had brought in. (I actually made brownies from scratch for the first time ever, as well as some mini muffins, but those were from a box mix.)
The next portion of the retreat was that Fr. Dan came and spoke to us about Christ’s Passion. It was very interesting, as always. One thing that struck me the most was when he made the example that even if only one of us was a sinner, Jesus would have come to die for just that person’s sins. It was powerful to think of, to say the least. We also talked about who we could identify with at different times in our life from the Passion.
We then had a wonderful lunch thanks to two CRHP groups, as well as continued snacking on our goodies. Lunch was a bit hard to stomach at the end though, as I knew our first reconciliation was drawing near.
One of the RCIA team members then spoke to us about confession and the sacrament of reconciliation. And, then it was time for the candidates to head into the church, while they elect stayed to hear about the sacrament of baptism.
Eric and I settled into a pew, and I thought I might be sick. I was SO nervous! Fr. Dan spoke to some of us as everyone came in, and I fessed up that I was pretty sure I was about to cry. He tried to reassure me that it wouldn’t be as bad as it seemed it would be. He spoke to the whole group a bit, and then we prayed together. Fr. Jeff was also there, and we could choose who we wanted to do our confession with. I pretty much wanted to jump right up and be first to talk to Fr. Dan, but someone beat me. LOL But, that gave me more time to think on what I wanted to say. When that first person left, I headed in, pretty sure I would either vomit or burst into tears. (It did help that I knew my sponsor was in the pew behind me — praying for me. She said that she said 30 Hail Marys for me while I was in the room doing reconciliation. LOL)
As soon as I sat down, he greeted me. And, then he said, “Oh, just one second,” and got up. I wondered what he was doing, but then he had just gotten up to get me a tissue. LOL Apparently he knew I was sincere about thinking I would cry!
I have to admit, I felt like I didn’t get into much of the “little” things in my life, though I did do some. I confessed to things that had been weighing heavily on me for a while, as well as one thing that I probably didn’t need to confess (since I didn’t know it was wrong when it happened), but I still needed to say it for my own self.
I admit — I did cry just a bit when he gave me advice and pinpointed where all of my sins seemed to stem from, but that was just because it was the first time I really looked at it like that, and it was eye opening. He made me realize that my faults are ones that we all have, and he gave me inspiring thoughts to think about what I should be striving for. The funny thing was, I didn’t cry too much in the room, but then when I got in to the third Hail Mary of my penance, I burst into tears. It was just like it was such a relief off my heart, and it was so powerful. I finally got it back together, and I finished my penance and prayed some more. Then, I sat and began to read from John’s Gospel. I got about a chapter into it before bursting into tears again. But — they were good tears…cathartic tears…hopeful tears. And, they were also tears of contentment to know that this is a sacrament that is now open to me, and that it is a sacrament that I need.
The rest of our retreat consisted of a talk on discipleship, a talk from a couple who went through RCIA last year (they were VERY entertaining, and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed hearing from them), and then some discussion of what will happen throughout Holy Week (for RCIA) and especially on the Easter Vigil. (We also had a practice run of taking communion with unconsecrated hosts/wine — I declared this to be “very confusing to an Episcopalian,” since things were different but still so similar.)
Overall — the day was great. It was long and mentally kind of draining, but it was wonderful. I felt like I grew today. And, I pray that I can act on what I have learned.