The first time that I started RCIA was when I was 6 months pregnant with my oldest child. The priest at the parish I lived next to was told that I was knocked up and so he came to my house and sat down with me to tell me that I needed to get my sacraments and baptize my baby or we would both go to hell. That’s what he actually said to me, a 16 year old pregnant girl. (The 20 something year old who knocked me up was the son of a Catholic deacon and abortion was brought up with I told my baby daddy that I was pregnant, so you can see where my distrust of Catholicism came from)
So I started the classes. The first day I asked a question about worshipping Mary, and the nun teaching the class told me that was an insult and went on with her lesson on the Rosary. The second class I asked why God would send my kid to hell just because I didn’t sprinkle his head with holy water and have a party along with 15 other questions. I was told I was interrupting and my questions were never answered. I stopped going to RCIA and gave the Catholic Church (and my baby daddy) the finger and raised my son without help from either of them.
In 2009 when I sat in RCIA again, I found myself in Fr. J’s office very angry, still giving the Catholic Church the mental finger and asking all those questions and arguing every point he made. I refused to hate gay people or worship Mary and I didn’t think God sent babies to hell just because they weren’t baptized. I also knew a lot of Catholics who didn’t practiced what they preached and what about priest molesting kids? And you know what he didn’t do? Freak out and tell me to stop asking questions. You know what he did do? Answered me, help me find answers, taught me how to read Church documents.
Him along with so many other great people in my life also made it clear to me that I will never get to a place where I’m so Catholic that I won’t have questions. There will always be questions. To deny anyone their right to ask a question is wrong. I don’t care who that person is or how much people think that person should know or discern quietly for the sake of all the fragile souls who can’t handle someone else’s thought process. Nobody in this world knows it all. We are all pilgrims.
Be not afraid, that is what Jesus said and what St. John Paul II repeated over and over. I think they both knew our natural tendency to be scared. We have no reason to fear anything, much less someone else’s question(s).
St. John Paul II, pray for us!