December 3, 2023 Essay: Spiritual Treasure
[This First Sunday of Advent, St. Ignatius Loyola Parish celebrates the RCIA Rite of Welcome, acknowledging a group of adults as they formally begin their journey toward becoming Catholic. This essay is written by Steve and Etra Rancourt, who were received into the Church at last year’s Easter Vigil.]
Recently, our family has been captivated by a television show that involves a group of friends searching for various gold treasures around the globe. The adventure on which these friends embark is both rewarding and challenging. It causes them to question many aspects of their lives prior to this adventure. When I think about our journey of becoming Catholic and part of St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, it can also be described as a treasure hunt, but one of the spirit. The parables below from Matthew speak to this spiritual treasure:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Matthew 13:44-46).
One such treasure has been the RCIA program. The teachers brought us to the Gospel. Each week was its own adventure, where you travel to a new destination. The vivid imagery contained in the verses made it feel as if we had been there in person a millennium ago. Oftentimes, the classes would result in us debating or helping each other understand the more complex lessons under the night sky on the walk home. The readings, handouts, and textbook were helpful guides to deciphering how the teachings of Jesus apply today. Faith has opened an entirely new dimension in our lives. We still have a lot to learn. We are grateful that St. Ignatius Loyola has so many engaged clergy and parishioners to help continue the exploration.
Another treasure we have discovered at St. Ignatius Loyola is the Interparish Religious Education Program (IREP) and Liturgy of the Word for Children. The teachers present lessons on humbleness, charity, gratitude, & forgiveness told through the Bible in an engaging and understandable manner. It is truly a unique and rare experience that is hard to find elsewhere. It is a privilege for our children to be able to attend these programs that help build character.
The most surprising treasure of all has been the experience of participating in Mass. Not until we experienced it for ourselves could we fully appreciate how transformational spending this time in personal reflection, communal fellowship, receiving the Eucharist, prayer, and rejoicing could be. The choir, homilies, community, and Communion Rite provide the map to guide us toward encountering Jesus in the Eucharist.
Once Mass concludes and we depart from the Church, we are ready to begin our week—inspired again. We know that we will not be perfect disciples in the days ahead, but we feel that each week we return to Mass, we are one step closer to the treasure buried in the field or the fine pearls of the parables.
In the spirit of the season, we thank you all for the love and support the parish community has shown our family. We thank the Lord for guiding us up the steps and through these doors. We pray for the RCIA Catechumens and Candidates experiencing this journey in the Welcome Rite today. Amen.
— Steve & Etra Rancourt, St. Ignatius Loyola Parishioners/2022 RCIA Group