Though there is much more to come on the M&M’s I spoke of earlier, I remembered an analogy about faith in Jesus, encountering him in a one-time, slam-bam sort of way. “I’ve found Jesus!” they say. To this I reply, “Great! But this is just the beginning of a committed relationship.”
In the Catholic Church, there is a process of conversion which for many begins with something called the RCIA. It stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Conversion means drawing into a deep relationship with God, becoming like Him so that one day we can see Him face to face, as He truly is. Like any relationship, however, this takes time. It begins with a period courting. In RCIA we call this the precatechumanate. I am right now working with a group of people in this phase of conversion. They are exploring the Faith, learning more about God and His Word (and the Church which is this Word’s Body – and this Church is living and active through the work of God’s Spirit!).
Next comes the catechumenate. This is much akin to an engagement period prior to the marriage. Faith can be expressed both vocally and internally. This period draws candidates (those on their way to becoming Catholic) closer to Christ and, as with engagements, creates a longing for Him – a total relationship of love and communion. In marriage, this is expressed through the vows of the wedding but with completion in the act of consummation whereby the two become on flesh. In conversion, this happens typically at the Easter Vigil Mass with the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation.
Baptism and Confirmation come first, establishing the relationship in a real, physical way. The relationship is consummated, however, in receiving the very flesh of the Word incarnate – we enter into a one-flesh union with our Lord and Savior becoming both His bride and His body.
But even this is a beginning. Like marriage, it takes time and commitment. Now, how do we know if we are growing into a deeper relationship? First, receive the sacraments often – especially the Eucharist and Confession (which I’ll talk more about later). Generally speaking, love is: free, total, faithful, and fruitful. Keep these words in mind when you’re in any relationship! For instance, ask yourself: Am I really in a free relationship or am I in an addictive (emotionally and/or physically) relationship? Love must be freely given AND received.
The fact is, saying “I believe in Jesus” and thinking that your relationship is a done deal with no more to do, you’re, in a sense, taking Jesus to Vegas for a quick (and weak) marriage. Who wants that?
If you want stability, commitment, and joy, join the Catholic Church.