I flopped onto my oversize reading chair last night, with stacks of things to read piled on the nearby table—the book on Jesus that’s consumed the last few weeks. The apocrypha. A booklet explaining the meaning behind Confirmation. A prayer guide. And atop the pile, color-coded for our convenience, the schedule of events for the remaining weeks of RCIA.
I’ve been told Ash Wednesday is early this year. That honestly doesn’t mean anything to me—what difference does it make to someone who’s never taken part?—but staring at that schedule, it hit me that it’s a mere two weeks away. During the Advent season, it seemed so far. Now that Christmas is over, I truly understand how quickly the date approaches.
It’s not just Ash Wednesday. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not that big a deal. But it’s what it signifies. It’s the start of a new season. The final season of which I’m just a Candidate. Because when it’s over, and the Easter celebration begins, that’s when my own Confirmation comes. That’s when I’ll fully be part of the Catholic Church.
Yes, I thought of all this in the five seconds I stared at that schedule. I’m not going to say I panicked, but… maybe I did. A little.
The moment I decided to begin RCIA, back in August, this time couldn’t come fast enough. I was so certain of everything; it didn’t make sense that I wasn’t already part of the Church. But as we approach the final weeks, I need more time. There are beliefs I don’t understand. I don’t know all the responses in Mass. I haven’t finished the piles of books on that table by my reading chair. I haven’t even told my parents I’m converting. I’m not ready. And I feel like I can’t tell anyone that.
I could. Last night, I could’ve texted my priest. I could’ve called my sponsor. I could have done anything, but I sat in that reading chair and stared at the things I wasn’t reading. Fine, I started to panic. Logically, there’s no reason. I’m following God’s direction. I know it’ll be okay. But every so often, I remember that this is a big deal. And I don’t know how to process that.
I wish I didn’t live so far from the parish where I began my journey. Big changes are hard enough, but doubly so in an unfamiliar area. I don’t want to attend Ash Wednesday Mass down here. I don’t want to have my first confession (which I still have to do) with a priest I don’t know. Even getting to RCIA on a weeknight is difficult, because rush hour in New Jersey is… well, rush hour in New Jersey. My God, I knew this journey would be a challenge. I don’t know why You went and made it more difficult.
I’m going to fall back on something my sponsor told me after my first RCIA class: “He’s got you.” It’s so simple. It’s so obvious. But even if I don’t feel it sometimes, and especially in those moments of panic, He’s got me. He’ll let me have my little moment of panic, but He’s going to pick me back up and get me going again. After I’m done whining. Maybe during. Because I sure am annoying when I whine.