So back on March 3rd I attended a small retreat with most of the catechumens/candidates and their sponsors from our RCIA group. It was pretty chill, and I didn’t expect to get a whole lot out of it, honestly, but it was actually pretty neat!
The first activity we did was to go through the creed (specifically the Nicene creed) piece by piece. That was interesting enough in itself – funny how most of us regular church-goers know the words by heart (well, mostly, still getting used to some of those recent changes!) but we don’t often think about every single word we speak. It was surprising to realize that I didn’t fully comprehend all of the meaning behind the words I use to profess what I supposedly believe.
But what was even more cool was that after we did that, we each individually wrote our own creeds. They didn’t have to be strictly religious or relating to the Christian faith, but of ours did include a few points about that. I learned that many of my fellow RCIA-ers are quite eloquent! And it was just sort of beautiful to hear people speaking in their own words about what they believe instead of spouting off memorized words put together by a council of men hundreds of years ago. I’ll go ahead and share mine here – beware! It’s kind of long! Feel free to skip down to read about the rest of the retreat if you get sick of my creed!
In no particular order, just as they came to mind…
I believe that God has called each of us to a specific purpose, or rather, has many purposes in mind for each of us.
I believe that God loves me, and accepts me, even with all of my faults, even in times when I turn away from Him or deny Him, and that He loves all of His children in the same way. (Edit: meaning in THIS same way, but He also loves us each in an individual way!)
I believe that God has given me a plethora of gifts that I neither deserve nor could ever repay, and thankfully do not have to, thanks to his inexplicable and incredible love, the most of these gifts of course being Christ’s death on the cross resulting in our redemption.
I believe in the power of music and its special place in worship, its ability to stir our emotions and draw us closer to God.
I believe that the Sacraments are hands down some of the COOLEST things ever. (and I don’t even get to fully partake of them yet!)
I believe that trees are awesome and provide an excellent metaphor for many things.
I believe in the significance of both tradition and growth and/or change.
I believe that having a strong community – of friends, of family, of fellows with like values – is crucial to having strong faith, as well as a fulfilling life. That being said, I believe that without faith, life would be worth much less.
I believe in the power of education, especially the importance of literacy, and its impact on many facets of the world – government, economy, religion, etc.
I believe in the importance of charity – of giving something of yourself, of sacrificing something precious for the betterment of others.
I believe that life is sacred but that it is somewhat cheapened when people try to tell others how to live it. God has that covered.
I believe that tears, laughter, puppies, and prayers are the best medicines.
We watched this video. It was kind of cheesy, but… in a really good way. Hah. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried twice and teared up a couple of other times. It was a very simple video, narrated by a man who is a photographer for National Geographic. It was called “Celebrate What’s Right with the World” with Dewitt Jones. I wish I could remember it better so I could describe it more fully, but alas, it’s been a few weeks, and I have a terrible memory. Suffice to say, it was a lovely short film, and it led to a good discussion.
Here are a couple of his photographs by the way!
We discussed choosing a confirmation saint, but I’m going to address that in an upcoming post so we’ll skip that for now!
After this, we separated to go off on our own and reflect about our faith journeys. We were asked to think of a peak moment or experience, either during the time we’ve been in RCIA or just something along the way of learning and discovering our spirituality.
Many people mentioned the Rite of Election, where most of the catechumens and candidates from our diocese gathered – we saw so many other people going through the same but still different journey we were on, and we could meet the Bishop if we chose, and it was a just big party really. Some just liked getting to know our specific group, going through RCIA together.
For me, my peak experience regards the fact that I’ve gotten excited pretty much every time we talk about the Sacraments. They’re pretty much the main reason I decided to become Catholic, and they relate to the event that originally and officially pushed me in the direction of Catholicism. I can’t recall if I’ve talked about that on my blog before, but, well, I’m going to share it now regardless.
Back on… some Longhorn Awakening retreat… maybe 50?… a friend of mine, Paige was giving a talk. The monstrance was a key part of her talk. Now, if you’re not Catholic, and/or you’re like I was at the time, you have no idea what a monstrance is.
Wikipedia to the rescue! Because I would butcher it if I tried to explain it myself: “A monstrance is the vessel used in the Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and Anglican churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic host, during Eucharistic adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.”
More importantly, the image Paige painted for us was that we ourselves are monstrances through which God shines His love. The Eucharist makes this more physical, more literal, in that we actually take Jesus in – bread and wine, body and blood, soul and divinity. He resides in us!, and not just symbolically. and there was just something so incredibly powerful about that for me.
I mean, I’d always known that I had God “inside me;” really, the Church, no matter the denomination, tends to drill that particular point into your head as a child. But this was different! This was God understanding my very human need for tangibility, that I needed to actually carry Christ with me. I have felt such a desperate yearning for the Eucharist ever since.
To close out our retreat, our sponsors prayed for us. Sadly, my sponsor was not in attendance – I knew she was very busy, and told her not to worry about that weekend; it wasn’t a requirement that she attend. It was indeed a little sad that she wasn’t there, but one of the other sponsors spoke a perfectly lovely prayer for me, so it was fine. God always provides, of course.
And now that I’ve bored you with well over a hundred words about a measly 4 hours, I will leave you in peace now.
…after I ask a question in attempts to get you, my dear readers, to engage with me!