Posted by: L. E. Barnes | March 21, 2010

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Father of life and God not of the dead

but of the living,

you sent your Son to proclaim life,

and to snatch us from the realm of death,

and to lead us to the resurrection.

Today’s reading from The Little Black Book begins with the above prayer, taken from the Third Scrutiny. One of the leaders of the catechumenate class read the prayer to us at the beginning of our session. Lent is drawing to a close, and Easter–the height of the liturgical year–is quickly approaching. This Easter will mark the third anniversary of my reception into the Church. I’m keeping our catechumens in prayer as they prepare to make the same step I did back in ‘07.

Our class divided into two discussion groups today, mainly to facilitate discussion of how people have been coming along with their Lenten journey. The group I stayed with first discussed John 11:1-45. This passage, which relates the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, is to be read during the Third Scrutiny. During our discussion of the passage, we talked about ways to interpret various parts of it. For instance, why did Jesus weep? Some suggested that perhaps He wept not for Lazarus–after all, He knew Lazarus was going to be brought back to life–but for the people there with Him. Another suggested that perhaps Jesus was weeping over the very existence of death in the world, thus showing His love for fallen humanity. Either way, Jesus was definitely demonstrating His own humanity. One member of the class added that this miracle was a sign of Christ’s divinity as well; He was showing His power over death. It therefore prefigured both Christ’s own resurrection as well as the resurrection He will give us.

Discussion of this passage led us to touch on issues such as how Lazarus may have felt about being brought back to this earthly life. Would he have preferred to remain in heaven? For instance, our group leader told us how her predecessor in leading the parish’s RCIA program, who died in late 2006 (though she was still leading the program when I started it earlier that year), actually asked people not to pray for her to be healed of the cancer that would soon take her life. “I’m almost done,” she had said. Others mentioned that people who have had near-death experiences report that they no longer fear dying.

The last part of class consisted of class members taking turns sharing a little about themselves, what led them to decide to enter the Church, and what they had been doing for Lent. Some, like me, come from Protestant backgrounds and have had to work through theological issues or friction with their families. A few had Catholic spouses who influenced them to become Catholic as well. Some told how their journey into the Church has been a very emotional process, and one lady even admitted that just coming to mass by herself has been somewhat scary. (Hang in there–we’re rooting for you!) For Lent, some were giving up their beloved coffee, or even anything with caffeine. Such sacrifice! Another said she was giving up yelling at her children. (Frankly, “fasting” from anger and harsh words is probably something just about all of us need to do, yours truly included.) The class concluded with both groups coming back together for prayer. We stood in a large circle, and one of our leaders passed a lighted candle around. Each person got the chance to hold the candle and express a prayer request. Lord hear our prayers…

After this had ended and everyone began to disperse, I spent a while talking with a couple of men in the class. One fellow shared about his own difficulties in learning to accept Catholic teachings, such as transubstantiation. I remarked that when I started RCIA, I was still struggling with whether I could even believe in God, and even after I had regained my belief in God, I had to learn to accept the Church’s full teachings. And how did I finally come to accept the Church‘s teachings, even on matters that I still had lots of questions about? By doing one thing: I gave up being my own Magisterium.

I continue to thank the Lord for all our catechumens and pray that they will draw closer to God and grow in their appreciation of the riches to be found in His Church.

Palm Sunday is just a week away!



  1. I love reading your blog and seeing the difference between RCIA classes. I’m sure they vary in as many ways as we have teachers and students. Each of us contributes to the atmosphere I’m sure! Reading your blog sort of makes me feel like I’m attending two classes each week 🙂

    I believe it may be easier to come into the church with little to no background because like you said if you can accept God exists at all then the rest falls into place easier. That’s where I’m coming from anyway. It doesn’t all make sense but what does makes such perfect sense that I know it will all fit together for me someday.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks! I’m glad you like the blog. I’m finally starting to get some regular traffic on it. For a while, I wondered if I was just wasting my time with it.

      But I’m especially glad you’re coming into the Church. I too found that once you find faith in God, things do “fall into place” pretty easily. And as I mentioned in the post, relinquishing our desire to be our own spiritual authority, or Magisterium, is actually a great relief and frees you to integrate yourself into His Mystical Body, the Church.

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