Pastoral Components of the Christian Initiation Process: From Initial Motivation to Firm Conviction to a Catholic Worldview
Pope Paul VI reminds us that the first Christians “were fully conscious of belonging to a large community which neither space nor time can limit: From the just Abel to the last elect, indeed to the ends of the earth, to the end of time” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 61). The RCIA process is to be a nursery of conversion. Many neophytes who do not stay with the Church leave not for lack of knowledge, but for lack of care. The pastoral aspect of the RCIA process is as vital as the liturgical and catechetical. The pastoral work of moving participants from their initial motivation to firmer conviction involves facilitating a desire for “more.” Their longing for more is often accompanied by the difficulties of pain, confusion, misery, grief, or humiliation. When this longing is identified, it is possible for eyes to be opened and hearts to be softened; nevertheless they remain aching and weak until grace is strengthened in them. The pastoral components are the people who participate, some intimately and others from a distance, in Jesus’ graced work of conversion and discipleship. It is the surpassing calling of becoming a gift to other souls, and receiving others freely as a gift from the Lord. This workshop addresses how the pastoral aspect of the RCIA process leads us to be sacrificial witnesses, the Lord’s chosen means to authenticate and demonstrate the power of his saving message to all people and all cultures.