I have a friend in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and I can feel the frustration growing. It’s a good thing she’s an avid reader; I’ve given her some Catholic books and every time I see her, she’s either ordering books and DVD’s online or she’s heading out the door to look for more. She goes to Mass with me every chance she gets and Catholicism has become our favorite subject to discuss. And it’s a good thing because she would be learning nothing at all about the faith in that class.
Yes, I have begun to refer to it as “that” class. We’ve been to three (count ’em, three!) so far and we’re getting nowhere fast, even though the sessions seem to drag on forever. Catechists around the world, I’m begging you, please prepare for class ahead of time; and please, please, please know the faith! If you don’t know the faith, please, please, please, I beg of you, please use the Catechism or some handbook which is indexed to the Catechism. And stick to it!
I can’t tell you how annoyed I am with “catechists” who spend almost every moment of class time sharing their personal testimonies with us over and over, long after our interest has dropped to zero. Please note, dear catechist, that when people start fidgeting while you’re talking, when heads bob indicating a state of sound sleep soon to be followed by loud snoring, when one person escapes to the bathroom (and “forgets” to return) and others literally run out the door with visible relief when the class finally does end, please note, dear catechist, that this is more than a tiny hint that things are not going well.
Studying the Catholic Church, her history and her teachings, steward that she is of the Mysteries of the Trinity, of our Savior, of He Who is the Light of the World, should be fascinating and inspiring. The “convert class” I attended with three other inquirers was taught by a wonderful Catholic priest who went by the book, adding to the richness of the experience by telling us what it was like to grow up in the predominantly Catholic culture of Ireland. He taught us good solid Catholic doctrine and answered our questions without allowing that discussion to derail the session.
I wish my friend could learn the faith from someone like him. If things don’t change soon, I’ll have to say something. I already have, but I’m going to have to say more. And we may just have to find her a better situation. I’m so glad she loves the Church already or this experience might have discouraged her. And for catechists to irritate and discourage adults who are willing to give up their time, energy and gasoline to drive way out in the middle of nowhere to learn about the faith, well, that is really dropping the ball. Big time!