It’s like riding a bike. The prayers and responses rolled off my lips, and my limbs recalled the rhythm of sitting and standing. My friends’ church choir brings sacredness to the room throughout the service, drawing a holy presence that I felt in my heart. I do appreciate the mystery of ritual in the Catholic church.
While moved by the music, I found myself listening closely to the words, wondering if their meaning would resonate in my soul as they had many years previous. Music is a path to the spiritual for me, and despite holding different beliefs that directly expressed by the songs, I found the music lifting me to a higher plane. Further into the Mass, however, I hit the curb and lost my balance.
The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) group were to be presented to the bishop later in the day, but they also appeared with their sponsors during this Mass after the homily. While appreciating the dedication these men and women were making to their faith and Church, I felt acutely uncomfortable hearing their sponsors questioned as to their charges’ commitment and efforts. How can anyone else know what dwells in one’s heart? How can one attest to the faith of another? While I’ve seen this ritual many times, one year as a sponsor, I hadn’t witnessed it since leaving the Catholic church about five years ago and don’t recall questioning it previously.
Indeed, how can another person validate anyone’s belief system, sanctifying it beyond what the individual and his or her Ground of Being can do? Why is a person, lay or clergy, needed for a person to make that leap? Initially, I thought the public nature of the event was my sticking point, but further reflection led me to my struggle: how could another human be a mandatory conduit between a person and the divine?
I don’t question that people and all of creation can and do facilitate links between the individual and the divine, but I fail to reconcile with that being as a requirement for connection, salvation, or fulfillment. Not even as a practicing Catholic did I feel certainty in that bit of doctrine, but only now outside of the Church does the thought discomfort me so much.
I firmly believe in the divine, in something beyond me that encompasses the universe. I rest peacefully knowing my vision of the divine need not be the same as the men and women in the RCIA program, yet feel certain we share a spiritual truth beyond creed and doctrine. Back on my bike, and on to communion. Stay tuned.