Last October, I decided to enroll in the RCIA program so that I might fully participate in the worshipping Body of the Catholic Church. I have been asked to share my simple story.
I became a Christian when I was a teenager. Coming from a Protestant background, my personal relationship with Christ was always the central focus of my spiritual strength. I was long contented with an individual, private form of Christianity. After Carol and I married and we had children, I recognized that a church-centered life was best to provide our family with spiritual and moral guidance. Although I participated in the Mass for almost 25 years with my wife and our daughters, I limited my commitment with the Church and its members to those moments. I used my job as a personal time excuse to remain detached from the Church community. Over time our children grew and I saw, mostly through my wife’s example, the energizing strength that resulted from making a commitment to the mission and members of the Church. Through our church friendships, I learned to appreciate the simple, honest faith of the members of our Parish. I saw a Community of Believers that shared the Eucharist, and humbly accepted the mission for which Jesus calls us. For years, standing outside, I now want to walk through the gate and become a meaningful part of that Community.
The RCIA experience has brought me into fellowship with a rich diversity of other Christians. Through my “classmates”, I have come to understand that although our individual needs, concerns, and questions may be highly variable, our desire to be seekers of Christ and participate in His Body are unified. We have become companions on an exciting journey that I hope continues to leave transforming impact.
Go in Peace, A Gift of Enduring Love
What we need to foster, in ourselves and in others, is a contemplative outlook. Such an outlook arises from faith in the God of life, who has created every individual as a wonder. It is the outlook of those who see life in its deeper meaning, who grasp its utter gratuitousness, its beauty, and its invitation to freedom and responsibility. It is the outlook of those who do not presume to take possession of reality, but instead accept it as a gift, discovering in all things the reflection of the Creator and seeing in every person their own living image.
Prayer not only opens up to a meeting with the Most High, but also disposes us to a meeting with our neighbors, helping us to establish with everyone—without discrimination—relationships of respect, understanding, esteem, and love. Prayer is the bond that most effectively unites us all. It is through prayer that believers meet one another at a level where inequalities, misunderstandings, bitterness, and hostility are overcome; namely, before God. Prayer is the authentic expression of a right relationship with God and with others.
We need to reaffirm our need for intense, humble, confident, and persevering prayer, if the world is finally to become a dwelling place of peace.
So, to take time to pray and to nourish prayer and activities through biblical, theological, and doctrinal study; and to live by Christ and His grace by receiving assiduously the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist: such are the fundamental requirements of every deeply Christian life. Thus, the Holy Spirit will be the source both of our action and of our contemplation, which will then interpenetrate each other, support each other, and yield abundant fruit.
This deep unity between prayer and action is at the basis of all spiritual renewal. It is at the basis of the great enterprises of evangelization and construction of the world according to God’s plan.
This reflection is from Pope John Paul II. These are selections from his book, Go In Peace: A Gift of Enduring Love.