Last week at the Chrism Mass, I sat a few rows back from a young man who came into the Church last year. I teach for RCIA classes occasionally, and I distinctly remember the night I taught his class. He was full of questions — really good, probing questions. I could tell he wasn’t there lightly. He was really searching. I could tell just from his questions that he had been in several different faith communities, had experience with different theologies, and had a strong philosophical background. He had done his research. But the answers he had received in the past were not satisfactory. Later, after talking to him, I learned he was a self-described skeptic.
I left class honestly not sure if he would come into the Church. I hoped I had answered his questions, but I felt he wasn’t truly satisfied. And I knew he had more.
You know the end of the story, because I already told you. He did end up entering the Church, and he’s one of those beautiful zealous souls that is 100% inside. Perhaps he would still describe himself philosophically as a skeptic, but I don’t see it when I talk to him now. There is that contentment and joy that comes when you really and truly take the plunge. All in. No-holds-barred.
As I sat behind him the other night, I thought of what an example he is of the gift of faith. There are some questions that don’t have satisfactory answers. And there are some answers that are only understood with the grace of the sacraments. While I’m not telling anyone to come into the Church flippantly (exactly the opposite, actually), I do think we need to let go of trying to solve every predicament or clear every roadblock of doubt. Perhaps there are some things that only grace will answer.
As we enter this Easter season, let’s remember the importance of mystagogy. Most of us are fully initiated into the Church and have received the sacraments. That does not mean we are finished with our journey of faith, but that we’ve just begun. Now that we’ve received the mysteries, now that we’ve received sanctifying grace, we can begin to enter into them, to unpack them. Now it is time to LIVE the mysteries… something that was impossible before receiving them. It is impossible to know the Church and Her Mysteries from the outside. It is only possible from the inside, in grace. (I highly recommend “Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians.”)
Don’t get discouraged when friends or family members don’t seem to understand Christ and His Church. Some things are only possible with faith. Pray for the gift of faith for them, and don’t take your own faith for granted. Thank God for it, praying that He gives you even more.