Meditations and Ponderings about the RCIA

Updated: Jan 23

by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism



Dr. Knight: Share with us some of the joys in your heart about being Catholic.


RCIA Member: Holy cards, icons, ofrendas, my wonderful sponsor, T.S. Eliot's Magi popping up in a homily, nuns and priests!, incense, St. Therese's "Little Way", priest's awesome shark joke, cradle-Catholics praying the rosary in one rising murmur, Lectio Divina, Loyola's IPS program, Mary's "Totally Yours" statue, Flannery O'Connor, Jesus helping me find my keys, the entire super-Spirited RCIA team-- pulling for us inquirers with all their hearts-minds-souls, the support of the other inquirers and the congregation, St. Teresa's "Let nothing disturb you" prayer-bookmark.


Dr. Knight: What are some of the issues that drew you to be so involved in the Catholic Church?


RCIA Member: I admire the commitment of the St. Sabina parish toward ending gang violence in Chicago. The Catholic Church has a long tradition of fighting for peace, immigration rights, and social justice. (I'm looking forward to Dorothy Day's sainthood as well as Fr. Augustus Tolton's.) The proliferation of-- and easy access to-- guns in the U.S. has led to a truly unbelievable number of mass shootings. The Catholic Church values all life.


Dr. Knight: What direction are we taking that fills you with hope, both now and in the future?


RCIA Member: The recent Papal Amazon conference shows the church's openness to growth and new ideas. The Catholic Church has reached out more to other faiths. There's been a greater emphasis on Scripture study. All churches have their ultra-liberal and ultra-conservative sides. The Catholic church appreciates the importance of finding common ground and sticking together as One Church.


Dr. Knight: What interactions bring you joy and a sense of beauty about being Catholic?


RCIA Member: The participation of the entire HNC family in HNC's Blessings in a Backpack (nourishment for the schoolchildren of struggling families) is truly beautiful. Younger family members help set out the proteins, fruits, cereal, and snacks while one woman-- with her baby strapped to her blouse-- fills bins with food and her husband breaks down the boxes and keeps the assembly line of volunteers moving.


RCIA Member: Singing "Glory! Glory to God in the highest!" with the congregation and red-robed choir.


RCIA Member: The moment when the priest lifts the chalice and says, "The Mystery of Faith".


Dr. Knight: What one thing would you like to see happen in the global Church?


RCIA Member: I'd like to see women become priests. I know, I know. Probably not happening next week. But I'm hoping women will play greater roles in serving the church.


Dr. Knight: Tell us about being under the leadership of Pope Francis.


RCIA Member: I love Pope Francis! (and highly recommend taking an impromptu selfie with his cardboard cut-out at the Daughters of Pauline bookstore). He's a pastoral Pope. His great love and empathy for all, his work to end poverty and bring about worldwide peace is inspiring.


Dr. Knight: What does Confirmation mean to you?


RCIA Member: At work, on the bus-- really anytime I'm around people is tricky. Afterward, I might hear inside my head: "Moment for grace missed." Confirmation means being "firm in my faith" and allowing a love for Jesus and his teachings to guide my actions. But my personal spiritual growth will always be a work-in-progress.


Dr. Knight: "Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary."-- St. Francis



Dr. Knight: Share with us some of the joys in your heart about being Catholic


I love being part of the largest and oldest Christian tradition. I also really appreciate the Church’s strong tradition of enculturation. Catholicism is truly universal as the name implies – it is not bound to a single culture. Jesus “gather[s] all people to himself so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to [his] name,” in the words of Eucharistic Prayer III, and this requires a church that is for all times and all places.


I also rejoice in the Church’s strong emphasis on the communion of the saints. We are all in this together, and it is a particular joy to seek the prayers and the example of the canonized saints.


Dr. Knight: What are some of the issues that drew you to be so involved in the Catholic Church?


The question of authority is an important one. When, for instance, we accept the authority of the Bible, we recognize the legitimacy of the church that compiled it. If the institution of the Church is a God-given means of grace, then there is no reason to expect it to stop being such and it is hard to justify separation from it. On a similar note, the church is supposed to be one. History shows us that no other community has as firm a claim to being the church of the apostles.


I am attracted by the Church’s fidelity to historic orthodoxy. While there is ample room for our understanding of God to develop with further inquiry, as Cardinal Newman articulated, this does not mean that we should write off the core teachings of Christianity as the fruit of ignorance and ridicule those who confess the articles of the Creed as immature or uninformed, as I have seen too often in other traditions. The virgin birth, the general resurrection, the Trinity, and especially the empty tomb – these things matter, because the Gospel stands or falls on them. The leaders of the Catholic Church seem for the most part to understand this, as St. Paul did.


Finally, I have believed for a long time in the objective efficacy of the sacraments, because God’s promises are kept.


Dr. Knight: What direction are we taking that fills you with hope, both now and in the future?


I am inspired by the Church’s commitment to the intrinsic value of human life in all forms and stages. Who else in our society, for example, expresses genuine concern and compassion for both the unborn and the displaced? Certainly, not the politicians, and many religious organizations fall just as short.


Dr. Knight: What interactions bring the joy and beauty of being Catholic?


My first thought is interactions with the catechists, candidates, and catechumens in RCIA at Holy Name, and with our priests. We are blessed with a very welcoming parish. I also appreciate that no one seems especially bothered by children when they invariably get a little noisy.


Dr. Knight: What one thing would you like to see happen in the global Church?


I could go a lot of directions with this, but I will stick with greater lay participation in the Liturgy of the Hours. Too many people assume it is just for clergy or vowed religious because it is obligatory for them. My previous tradition tended to promote lay participation in the Divine Office, and that has stuck with me and been a means of grace and peace. Anyone can lead it anywhere (you can be alone on the train, but praying in common with the Pope and even cloistered nuns), and electronic editions can shallow the learning curve significantly. The Psalms, hymns, canticles, and intercession give voice to all of our collective longings and joys before the Lord.


Dr. Knight: Tell us about the joy of being under the leadership of Pope Francis or Cardinal Cupich


I honestly cannot pick one of these bishops and will have to talk a little about both.

I love Pope Francis for his infectious joy for the Gospel and his resulting concern for the people of the world, especially the poor. He chose to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi and has indeed lived up to his principles of charity, reform, and simplicity of life.

Cardinal Cupich and I grew up about four miles and four decades from each other in Omaha, but that is not the main thing I appreciate about him. Much more important is the way he echoes Pope Francis, and through him Jesus Christ. It seems that the Cardinal is almost always among the first in our city to speak out for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.


Dr. Knight: What does Confirmation mean to you?


Confirmation is a unique invitation for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. It also, either directly or by way of the Chrism Mass, emphasizes our connection to the bishop and therefore to the church in a particular place.


Dr. Knight: "Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary."-- St. Francis

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