By Barb Arland-Fye
Last Saturday night, from my vantage point in the parish choir, I witnessed light pierce the darkness as the faithful returned to their pews with candles lit from the Easter fire. I couldn’t help but feel God’s presence in the communion of candlelight.
An overwhelming sense of God’s presence filled me again when our pastor laid hands on the head of a candidate I have known for years because both of us are parents of a son with autism. This husband, father and committed volunteer entered the Catholic Church following a period of discernment through the richest of faith formation programs, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
I can’t think of anything more uplifting and faith-affirming than to witness new members, adults and children, enter the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday Masses. Each one has a faith story, even the little ones, through their parents, who chose to have them baptized. That choice comes with a commitment to nurture their child’s faith in an era when the secular world pushes aside the sacred.
While singing with the choir during Holy Week, I saw Catholics who entered the church after participating in RCIA when I assisted with that process. One serves as a lector, an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, and is a member of the Knights of Columbus. He read the part of the “Voice” in Jesus’ Passion.
Another convert’s teen-age son is a gifted cantor with our parish choir. Before he could drive, his mother sat through many choir practices because of her commitment to his music ministry. Another convert regularly assists with the parish’s family activities. Her oldest son is a lector who read one of the Scripture readings at the Easter Vigil. Two of his three younger siblings serve as altar servers.
Other Catholics in parishes throughout the Diocese of Davenport experienced the faith-affirming experience that I did as they witnessed newcomers receive one or more of the sacraments of initiation. Nearly 200 people joined the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil. The photos that have been sent to The Catholic Messenger capture the joy of the sacramental life of the church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the sacraments of initiation — baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist — “lay the foundations of every Christian.” Through these sacraments “they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward perfection of charity.”
Converts and cradle Catholics alike, we can pierce the darkness of despair, hatred, violence and divisiveness in the world with the light of faith manifested in prayer and action. We are bread broken for the world, dying to self as we advance toward perfection of charity. Joy sometimes follows tears, just as dawn breaks through the night.
In this Easter season, consider the words of Pope Francis spoken Easter Sunday and shared in a Catholic News Service story:
“Pope Francis suggested everyone find a quiet place on Easter to reflect on their problems and the problems of the world and then tell God, ‘I don’t know how this will end, but I know Christ has risen.’”
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)