RCIA as Purgatory
We’ve all heard of places where RCIA is handled so badly that it can only be regarded as a purgatorial experience. This is not the sense that I’m thinking of when I say that RCIA is purgatorial in nature. My own experience hasn’t been nearly that dreadful. We got off to something of a rocky start, but by and large my classes have been really, really good.
I see this stretch before my confirmation as something of a picture of Purgatory. The similarity between the two is most acute when I’m at Mass. I’m unspeakably excited at the prospect of being welcomed into the Church, and there's an overwhelming joy that comes from just being in the same room as Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, but that joy only sharpens the pain I feel at not being able to receive Him. This deep yearning for Him is truly painful (sometimes even to the point of an actual physical ache), but it's a pain in the best of ways. It’s getting me ready, making me fully aware of the awesomeness of the Sacrament.
I think Purgatory, in a similar but even greater way, will be this joyful kind of pain/painful kind of joy. Knowing that you've died in God's friendship and being so close to His Presence are cause for happiness that we cannot yet even imagine, but the intense pain of being not-quite-there is what purifies us, getting us ready to enter in.
File Under: RCIA, Doctrine