I was received into the Catholic Church on Sunday! As my new friend Russ might say, I have crossed the Tiber. I have made it to the other bank safe and sound, but the journey continues…
Before Sunday I was a Christian. After Sunday I am still a Christian. What has changed is my full participation in the only Church Jesus founded and in the fullness of faith therein. The path to here was not only one of learning but of rediscovery and exploration of my Christian roots. I am now an enthusiastic part of a community that will stay true to God’s word. I am home.
Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it. “See,” he said, “now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”
It was a bright, beautiful day. We candidates sat up front with our families and sponsors. The Rite of Reception took place after the Homily and included the Sacrament of Confirmation for those of us who were not already confirmed (that was most of us, including me). Father Paul prayed for each of us with his hands placed upon our heads and anointed us with oil that we may receive the Holy Spirit. Through this simple and touching ceremony we each began our Catholic lives.
The normal Mass continues with the Liturgy of the Eucharist for everyone, including (at last!) us newly confirmed. I chose to receive Communion under both forms, although it is equally valid to receive only one. It is proper to bow in the presence of our Lord as you approach to receive Communion. This is normally done as the person in front of you receives the Eucharist and was certainly my intention. I had carefully gone over this in my head. As things worked out, when I approached no one was in front of me and in my excitement and nervousness I forgot to bow. The respect was 100% in my heart, but I did not receive the sacrament completely as I had intended. We are so new!
After Mass the newly confirmed joined the exit procession and headed to the PLC. It was Donut Sunday, so there were donuts, bagels, coffee, juice, milk, etc. plus a cake in our honor. We all enjoyed this reception and the chance to talk with family and friends. During the months in RCIA, attending Mass, various events, Men’s Fellowship, etc. I made many new friends.
There were other memorable moments too. The applause that welcomed us, friends gently touching my shoulder as they passed for Communion, a surreptitious “thumbs up,” and big smiles all stand out. I did not discover one particularly touching part until I was at home. In the envelope with my confirmation certificate were 2 handmade, personal welcomes from children in our youth classes. Crosses, stars and other adornments decorated them with “George, U Rock!,” “Keep Working!,” “Good Luck!,” “Stay Strong” and signed by the kids. Such a perfect welcome.