By Brian Niemiec
This week’s homily on sin brought up a host of questions during our RCIA class. Are some sins worse than others? Why do we need to confess to a priest? Why does the Pope go to confession so often? Now, truth be told, I was a little off my game that morning. It had been a late night, but my co-catechist and I were doing a fairly good job of breaking open a subject we had not prepared to talk about.
Then, however, came the question, “But are little sins every now and again really a big deal? I mean as long as you are generally a good person, aren’t a few sins here or there ok?” Well, I fell flat on my face, and found myself waste deep in relativism. Thankfully my partner saved me from committing the greatest sin of any minister: leading the faithful astray.
My big blunder in the vocal vomit of my answer was forgetting Jesus. In my attempt to reassure this person that we are all human, and mistakes and sins are part of that humanity, I had forgotten the all-important challenge of being ever more human, that is, to be ever more like Christ. The Pope goes to confession so often because he has grown close to Christ in his life, and encountering the person of Jesus so intimately, he more easily recognizes the imperfections that you and I tend to miss completely. Continue reading What Not To Say When Talking About Confession
Last Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, the catechumens and candidates throughout the dioceses of Boston gathered at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to participate in the Rite of Election. I had the privilege of accompanying the group from the parish I assist with RCIA. While the Cathedral is magnificent and has a high capacity for worshipers, it is not conveniently located for public transportation and parking is very limited. Many people would be flocking to this event, so I decided to arrive an hour early. As I stood in the back waiting, my mind began to be enamored and edified by the many different people entering. From teenagers to elderly adults, women and men of many different cultures, races, and social classes, all were coming together to begin the final stages of the RCIA process. God touched each person in one way or another to begin the journey of love into the Catholic faith.
I thought about all the thoughts and emotions that have emerged in their hearts throughout this past year, all the readings they may (or may not) have done, and all the questions that may have asked RCIA teachers, pastors, or friends of the Catholic faith. This made me realize the importance of the role of being an RCIA teacher. As I have reflected and prayed through this past week since the ceremony, it has become clear that for me to hand on the faith through RCIA, I must teach with an acronym that I call CPR: Confidence, Preparation, and Responsibility. By cultivating CPR, I authentically hand on the faith that I believe and let God show me how I can grow as a believer in my own understanding of who God is and who I am.
One time after class, a catechumen said to me, “I’m not sure I love God yet, is that bad?”
Continue reading Guest Post: CPR for RCIA