Author: Kathy Horan
All around us are signs of the season of spring, for which we have looked forward to. We have left behind us the sometimes grey, dull and cold days of winter and may even have a spring in our steps as we look forward to more natural warmth and light, and the energy that comes from them.
Our world has become bright and cheery again, with longer daylight hours and the emerging colours of flowers and blossoming of trees. It seems that nature and the natural world are set to rejoice in the newness of life and to encourage us to simply be in the presence of our Creator God and to live in peace and harmony with the community of all of creation.
What also happens at the beginning of this new season is that those people who come along to our Catholic communities to inquire about becoming Catholic through the RCIA process are, in fact, responding to an impulse to ‘come and see’ what the Catholic Church is all about.
They are interested in finding out what the Catholic Church is and what it means to become Catholic. From the outset, they become aware that the journey they begin through responding to an invitation to inquire about the Catholic faith is a journey within a Catholic community where all members are engaged in some way in this process. It is into the life of the whole community that these inquirers and possibly Catechumens are seeking to be initiated.
While a smaller team of parish members will support them in their journey of faith, it is the whole community who will be welcoming and gracious, who will support them with their prayers and who will find ways to engage them in the life and mission of Jesus in their parish.
Our Church is experiencing difficult and challenging times, when some have become discouraged and frustrated with the Church; others are grieving for the Church they knew and now may not recognise. Many are personally trying to come to terms with their pain and suffering from some in the Church; and for others there is an experience of heaviness of heart when they think of all of the above.
Maybe our Church is ready now to experience a new spring-time and time of renewal within. The darkness and heaviness of the past few years in particular need to be put aside to allow for us to move forward as a Church into a hope-filled future.
Challenging and painful times of suffering and anguish are not new to our Church and must not be overlooked or denied. The early days of Christian communities showed them needing to find a way through controversy, misunderstanding, persecution and hostility from external groups. For these communities, it was faith in the Risen Lord that kept their hope alive and allowed them to find new ways of witnessing to the good news.
It is this good news about Jesus that we wish to proclaim anew and again for all those who seek life to the full within our Catholic communities. Let us look forward, with renewed hope, to welcoming those who wish to share our journey in faith.