An Easter People | February 20, 2021 Essay
Cheerfully donning an assortment of colorful masks, a dynamic group of adults gather in Wallace Hall each week to learn about the Catholic Faith through the RCIA* process. Serving on the RCIA Team and helping to shepherd the future church is an honor. This year, against the backdrop of the pandemic, it has been especially meaningful.
This intrepid troop inspires me with their faithful attendance amidst a pandemic that simply won’t quit. This group is undeterred. Despite the face coverings, they speak. Despite the distance, they connect. They want to know Jesus. They study the scriptures, share their reflections, and ask thoughtful questions. Every time, Jesus shows up. Every time, I am in awe. Their witness is a testament to hope, Jesus, and the Catholic Church.
Today, the First Sunday of Lent, marks the final period of their formation process. At the 11:00 Mass, those three adults preparing for Baptism will participate in the Rite of Election. Those already baptized will participate in a Rite: the Call to Continuing Conversion (seven adults). They will enter the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil and they will begin yet another new journey.
They are an Easter People.
Pope Saint John Paul II famously stated: “We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song.” I have always loved this quote. But I loved it generically; it is one of many inspirational quotes that I read, nod my head in assent, and move on with my life. That has changed. I get it now.
My mom, a psychotherapist by trade, taught me that the brain’s job is to make sense out of nonsense. The higher the level of nonsense, the harder the brain has to work. This pandemic might be the highest level of nonsense I have ever experienced and my brain is beyond exhausted.
This pandemic has felt like one never-ending Good Friday; for almost a year, the world has been struggling to survive the unimaginable. If I have gained any wisdom from this era, I do not know what it is yet. I cannot make any sense out of all the pain and death. So I lean on the wisdom of my faith to help me make sense out of the nonsense.
My faith tells me that Good Friday – no matter how long it lasts – is not the end of the story. It tells me that the unimaginable pain and loss and grief are not the end. We are not a Good Friday People.
Jesus’ story does not end with the crucifixion. It doesn’t even end with his resurrection and ascension into Heaven. Jesus’ story is intimately woven through the events of our lives. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, continues to live in us – even in the midst of the longest Good Friday many of us have ever experienced.
We are an Easter People.
This truth – that death does not have the last word – is not only spiritual. It is physical. The truth of our reality is that no one’s story ever ends. God’s story never ends. And God will never end our story. The pandemic cannot win because God always wins. That is what it means to be an Easter People. This faithful RCIA crew, in their commitment and stiving, has been a physical witness to this great truth.
They are my Easter People.
Below are a few thoughts from this lovely group of adults attending the RCIA:
“Attending RCIA this year has provided me an unexpected source of peace and stability. Exploring my faith has made the chaos and uncertainty of the current world seem a little less overwhelming. After Thursday and Sunday sessions, I feel renewed and excited for the future where God is an integral part of my life.”
“Attending RCIA classes this year has allowed me to develop a closer relationship with God. I pray more often than I did prior to attending classes. Additionally, the weekly meetings have introduced me to various readings that I share with my wife. These readings provide me with guidance that I am able to use in my daily life.”
“Enrolling in St. Ignatius Loyola’s RCIA program has literally changed my life…. Through the RICA-led study of St. Peter, in particular, I have learned that acceptance and forgiveness of both others and ourselves is a central tenet of the Church. I have learned through the study of Mary, that Christ works and moves through the most ordinary people to do extraordinary things if we are open to His calling. Viewing faith as a continuous journey makes sense now; it is savoring the mysteries.”
We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song.
I know what it means now.
– Skye Christina Angioletti, RCIA Team Member & Parishioner