A Neophyte no Longer

Paschal Candle

Tonight I will attend Easter Vigil at my parish and see the elect and the candidates from this year’s RCIA program join the Catholic Church. They will be standing at the front of the church—where I stood last year—ready to receive the appropriate sacraments of initiation. They will become neophytes, and I will cease to be one.

Last year, I wrote that being a neophyte gave me a reason to slow down and not rush into anything:

I realized as I sat there listening to his homily that my priest had just given me license to slow down, to wait, to be patient. So I decided, at that moment, that I would take the next year—up until Easter 2012—to just sit in the pews and be a new Catholic.

Tomorrow is Easter 2012 and my first year in the church is over, but I am still not ready and I will be taking an extension.

God has given me another reason to wait; it came by surprise, but I am welcoming it. The pastor of our parish is leaving to become a bishop in Eastern Oregon. This July, we will welcome our third pastor in two years.

Father Mark was the first. He’d been at the parish for twelve years. I really liked him and was sad to find out that he would be leaving shortly after I joined the Church

Father Liam was his replacement. He had grown up in the parish before going to seminary and seemed like a good fit. The little I saw I liked, but apparently the Pope liked him too: enough to give him a big pointy hat.

So now we’ll have an interim until July, and then we’ll welcome his hopefully more permanent replacement. The transition period gives me the latitude to be patient, and to take more time to consider my options.

I’m still thinking about Benedictine Oblation, and will speak to someone at Mount Angel about it when I take my retreat over Pentecost weekend.

I’m still thinking about music ministry, and I plan to talk to the music director about where my talents might best fit.

I’m still thinking about service at the altar too, but I want to get a sense of the new priest before I approach anyone about that. I liked the minor changes in the liturgy that Father Liam made, but who knows what the new guy will do.

And maybe after listening to the Spirit some more I’ll decide to wait. That’s ok too. As I wrote last week, I know what my primary vocation is: being the best husband and father I can be. Writing comes second; after those two I can only manage one more without stretching myself too thin.

So maybe my second year will be a discernment year. I can take my time, weigh my options, and decide where God wants me.

And even after picking one, I won’t be closing the door forever on the others. I can explore them successively rather than simultaneously.

I like that idea.

Paschal Candle image courtesy of Family in Feast and Feria. The site includes a PDF file for use in making your own candle.

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