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Quick Reflection on Tuesday’s Class

Not really on the class so much as on me, actually. This week was on the sacraments of Reconciliation (aka confession) and of Anointing the Sick. I ought to actually be reflecting on the actual sacraments. Instead I found my thoughts turning to how this week and in previous weeks the Catholic Updates and the lecturers spent a lot of time talking about how the church is changing. For example, in Update, lecture, and video they compared the “old view” of confession to the “new view” of reconciliation. Last night and other nights there have been several instances in class where the sponsors were nodding their heads and smiling while us catechumens just sort of blinked. Next week’s topic is the sacrament of Holy Orders (joining the priesthood) so the update is written from a priest’s point of view of how his own personal experience as being a Catholic and participating in the sacraments as a parishioner have changed, how his personal experience as a priest and participating in the sacraments as an leader have changed, how the church practices themselves have changed, and how he sees these changes reflected in what parishioners are doing now. He even refers back to Reconciliation multiple times in his discussion, even though that wasn’t the main topic. Reconciliation appears to have undergone a more dramatic revision than other areas. Anyway, I am guessing that the Updates were not actually designed for RCIA classes specifically, but for Catholics in general because while they are very basic in nature and don’t assume you know the vocabulary so they explain terms very well, they are often written from the perspective “remember when blah blah blah” and my answer is always, “no, I don’t remember, this is pretty new to me.” I guess that’s not such a bad thing because, having limited direct experience of what the church was like before I started the classes, the only way for me to learn about it is from reading the cradle Catholics' perspectives. Still, it’s giving me a vaguely schizophrenic feeling. On the one hand, I feel happy that I don’t have all these preconceived notions that must be overcome about “confession” and can start out fresh with the idea of “reconciliation.” I’m in it from the start! I don’t need to be persuaded to change my outlook. I appreciate your biblical verses as explanation of why the Vatican made the changes, it sounds quite logical and is a good foundation for me to build upon, but you don’t have to work so hard to convince me the change is worthy. On the other hand, I have a sort of melancholy over knowing there was a tradition I did not get to participate in. I won’t fully understand why this is such an important change because I won’t have experienced the struggle of reassessing my views and deciding to realign myself. At least the idea of confession is somewhat mythical (many movies and tv shows have used it as plot devices) so I have a rudimentary understanding of the “remember when blah blah blah” moments referred to in the Updates.

Regardless, I am always relieved to see that, as big as it is and as old as it is, the church is not only capable of reviewing itself, its policies, and its beliefs but is also willing to change and grow. On my own small scale that’s exactly what I am trying to do by taking these classes. We’re in it together.

My other main reflection from this week is that I have become a bit complacent, I think. Before the break I was always careful to not only read my Updates and books and assignments, but also to highlight key points and think about how they pertained to me and my experiences prior to going to class. The week before (topic: the Eucharist) I read the Updates while waiting for class to start. This week I *lost* the Updates and never read them at all. I found them in my trunk and am reading them today. Also, my write up from last week did not get posted and this write up is not really about content so much as about me. Lame!

I have read next week’s update and related it to previous lessons, darn it. I am refocusing! I am taking control of myself because I independently recognized my sliding and know this is the right thing to do. This has nothing to do with Father Cayer ending last night’s class with “read your homework, read your homework, read your homework” which was quickly followed with another somewhat frustrated admonition that really we should read our homework because we should read it. Seriously, he was so bothered he was at a total loss for words because it was obvious from our lack of responding to his prompts during the lecture that no one had read the Updates this week. It would have been funny except… well, actually, it was pretty funny. Still, I had already vowed to do better and this will cheer him up as well, so yay.

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