April 3, 2013
By Father William Muench
Each Easter, I am reminded of the many times I have baptized a catechumen – an adult who completed the RCIA program and made a decision to receive Baptism and enter the Catholic Church. This is a joyful occasion for any priest.
Each year, during the summer months, every parish searches out those interested in investigating the Catholic Church and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Many of these will develop a deeper interest and decide to be baptized and enter the Church.
In the RCIA program that prepares a person for Baptism, the weeks of Lent become the final steps before receiving Baptism at the Easter Vigil.
These weeks of Lent are a spiritual retreat especially for those to be baptized so that they make their relationship with Jesus ever stronger leading up to that definite decision – that conversion – to find new life with the Lord. These weeks become a time of prayer leading to a deeper understanding of all that Baptism means.
The Easter Vigil becomes a perfect time for Baptism. Easter celebrates the Resurrection of the Savior. Easter is then a time for all Christians to celebrate their Baptism – their rebirth – their time of new life. This then is a perfect time for Baptism – the sacrament of rebirth and new life.
These Easter Vigil Baptisms have brought many wonderfully dedicated people into my life. They all have made a life changing decision – difficult at times yet, faith filled – as they chose Baptism. I have heard their stories and have been deeply touched by these stories. In many ways, their stories have reminded me of many Gospel stories as Jesus brought someone to a new and different life.
There are also many stories of the apostles who brought many to Baptism. The Acts of the Apostles tell of nearly 5000 being baptized in the first Pentecost. In many of the stories that I have heard I noticed the importance of one individual who led someone into the RCIA Program and the decision to be baptized. They were often led to God and the Church by someone – a husband or a wife – a friend.
I remember so well a fellow telling me that he was led to the Church by a man at work. He was truly impressed by this man’s Catholic faith. He told me that he was so impressed that he wanted exactly what his friend had. He even identified that man by name.
I know the person and I have no doubt that, if I approached that fellow and told him how he had lead another to Baptism because of his faith, he would be very surprised. He would probably tell me that he was just an ordinary Catholic, trying to live a good life as best he could. Yet, in doing just that he changed the life of another and brought him to the Lord. By the way, I didn’t look that fellow up.
Many of these stories involve the power of prayer. I am immediately reminded of the well-known story of St. Monica who prayed so much for the conversion of her son that she became a saint herself. Her son, St. Augustine became a saint also – a great gift to the Catholic Church through his writings and teachings.
This story has been repeated over and over again. I have heard it told often of Catholic husbands or wives who have prayed successfully for the conversion of a spouse.
Our Catholic faith has become stronger and more alive by many wonderful converts. I have known many who have brought so much to my parishes.
I must add that the priesthood of the Catholic Church has been enriched by many converts who discovered a vocation to be a priest.
I know them – many wonderful priests, caring pastors, brilliant theologians – who were converts to the Catholic faith.
We thank you, Lord, for these many converts to our Catholic faith.