So this is the fateful week, the week that ends with me receiving my confirmation and First Communion if all goes according to plan.
There’s quite an agenda ahead: tomorrow is the final RCIA before the big event, and so they’re bringing in a priest for those who want to receive the act of reconciliation (confession). Thursday is the service commemorating the Last Supper, where at many churches they reenact Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Good Friday takes place at the end of the week, and it’s the only day of the year where there is no Mass (although there’s still a commemorative service). And Easter Vigil, the climax of the entire thing for those being confirmed, is on Saturday night. On Friday night the statues of saints throughout the church are all shrouded in black cloth, and so the sanctuary is dark and quiet for Saturday’s vigil. And then the lights come up, the cloths are removed, and the choir starts singing Hallelujah!
It’s hard to believe how quickly this all happened. It seems I’ve been attending Mass and RCIA forever, and that I truly am a part of the community, and yet so much of it is still foreign–there’s so much to learn. Just a year ago, last Easter, I attended the first Mass I had been to in years, and while parts of it were quite strange (I jumped when a huge drop of blessed water smacked against the back of my head), I also remember thinking it wasn’t so bad. Little did I know what would happen.
Now I pretty much can participate in Mass without too much trouble, and I’ve come to see it as comforting and peaceful in many ways. The sacraments, to me, are encouraging, tangible reminders of God’s grace. The saints, Mary, the Eucharist, I’ve come to terms with. But despite all this I face the week nervously, feeling uncertain and to be perfectly honest, that some of my questions are unresolved… and maybe they always will be.
Part of me thought, foolishly, that I had my long list of questions and objections about the Catholic Church in my spiral notebook, and that as I learned more about the Church I would cross them off one by one. To some extent this is true, certain things just aren’t issues anymore. And I’ve heard a lot of logical arguments and explanations that make sense. But if I’m honest with myself, there are many things about the Church, and even about Christianity in general, that I don’t understand and still don’t know what to make of.
But I can also say that I don’t really want these questions and areas of tension to evaporate. Without them a ritual like the one we’re going through on Saturday would be unnecessary. Confirmation, it seems, is just as much encouragement for the journey and growth ahead as it is an acknowledgment of the good things that have already happened. So while I’m nervous and feeling somewhat ambivalent about the next few days, I sense also a spirit of peace. Peace to take this step. Peace that some, if not all, of my questions will be answered. Peace that the unknown isn’t all dark.