Browsing Amen Corner

Amen Corner - September 25, 2022

A number of people among us are exploring our Catholic way of life. Some are unbaptized, some may have been baptized in another faith tradition, or some may have been baptized in the Catholic Church but never received any further formation in faith. All of them are inquiring about what it means to be Catholic and therefore they are called inquirers. These inquirers are in the first period in the process of Christian Initiation, officially called the period of evangelization and precatechumenate.

This period gives inquirers time to seek and to deepen their understanding of who they are and whose they are. The entire catechumenate process has been likened to the process of falling in love and that takes time. This period, then, is akin to meeting someone for the first time, and deciding to meet for the second, third, and fourth times. It is a time to get to know one another, to ask questions, to share stories and histories, to explore likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams, and to meet family and friends. This time of dating and becoming acquainted is crucial because it helps couples realize that they are ready for the next steps in their relationship with one another. In the same way, the precatechumenate is a process of falling in love with God through his son, Jesus Christ. It is a time of getting to know Christ through the community of believers.

The agenda for the precatechumenate is determined by questions inquirers bring in. Their questions will range from humorous to serious, from questions about Catholic culture to questions about the deepest meanings of life. One person may want to know why the priest wears different colors, or why Catholics change postures so much during the Mass, while another may want to know the church’s position on the death penalty and yet another may ask questions surrounding divorce and annulments. Most of the time, they ask questions to clarify things they’ve heard regarding the Catholic faith, questions like, “Do Catholics really worship Mary?” and “Why do Catholics pray to statues?” 

Storytelling also marks this period in the journey of the inquirer. In one’s personal story the living God is encountered. When inquirers tell their stories of pain and loss, of falling in love and of giving birth, they can, with the help of others to guide them, see how God has been at work in their lives. Stories can help inquirers relate to Scripture. During the precatechumenate, the catechist helps the inquirer reframe their life stories in the light of the Gospel. When inquirers can connect their stories to the stories from Scripture, they gain a deeper perspective of God’s interaction in the human community.

In order to highlight God’s interaction in the human community, we at St. Thomas Aquinas are doing something different this year during this initial period of Christian Initiation. At the 10:00 a.m. and the 2:00 p.m. Masses, the inquirers will be recognized and welcomed by representatives of various ministries who were chosen because they have a connection with the Sunday Gospel. For example, last weekend’s readings addressed the plight of the poor and so representatives from our St. Vincent de Paul Society welcomed the inquirers. It is hoped the presence of these ministers will reinforce the message of the Gospel by their witness that the Word is living and active in this community.

This new endeavor also illustrates that Christian initiation is the responsibility of the entire parish community. So whenever you encounter one of our inquirers, welcome them, share your love for God and for your faith! For more information or to be more involved in the Rite of Christian Initiation, contact Terry Zobel, [email protected], or Ivette Mahfoud, [email protected].


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