“Then he [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” – Lk 9:23-26
In Part I of Path to Humility: Accepting the Truth, through spiritual reading I realized that humility was better defined as accepting the Truth in totality, accepting both the reality that God created and being fully open to His plans in my life. This means that the first major humbling experience I had on my path to humility was in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).
When Jesus revealed himself to me, I knew that what had happened to me was very serious. Members of my family had converted before, they had already stopped going to church by this time, but from their experience I knew that Catholics were very serious about Baptism. You didn’t just accept Jesus and go and get baptized the next day. You had to be taught what it meant to be Christian. I can only explain the initial conversion and RCIA experience as one where I was going through death and rebirth at the same time. Death to the world I had known and just like an infant in her mother’s womb, I had to grow within the womb of the Church before being reborn. It was not easy and I had to give up a lot of my prior beliefs at that time and take up the beliefs of the Church.
Between my experience with Jesus and starting the RCIA, I had a lot of dreams and one in particular that I held onto. While it may not all be relevant here, I still remember it vividly so I want to share it in its entirety. In this dream, I was standing outside of my house in the sunlight. Only this sunlight permeated my whole being. I was at peace, my thoughts had been suspended as I stood there and soaked it in. Somewhere in the distance, past my hedges and up an on a hill, I could hear an announcer. He was inviting everyone that could hear to attend the wedding that was going on there. I could see a couple walking up the hill to attend and realized that other people were at the wedding (there was no one else around me). I knew I could go, that it wasn’t too late. But then a child, a little boy, ran into my house. This was MY house what was this child doing there? I turned from the light and went into the house in search of the child. The house was dark and it was almost impossible to see anything. I went into the room furthest in the back where I thought the child had gone through a door. Only once I got to the room, there was no little boy and no door. I looked up and saw a mirror before me. The sight of myself was terribly frightening; outside of the sunlight I was nothing but a ghost.
So this dream happened before I read the Bible or knew anything about being Christian, not to mention Catholic. However, I felt that I had experienced a real encounter with God’s true peace so I hung onto the memory of the peace in the sunlight. I wanted so badly to feel that way again that I promised myself I would not turn away from the light now, not even in a dream. I felt that going to the RCIA was a step in the right direction. Little did I know how close I was. Three months into RCIA, we were learning about the Catholic Mass. Towards the end, Deacon said, and also almost as a side note, that the Mass in addition to being the Last Supper is also the Wedding celebration. I could barely speak “Did you say the Mass was the Wedding?” He couldn’t hear me, so one of my RCIA classmates that could tell I was struggling asked for me. “Oh yes yes, the Mass is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb”.
Now, realizing that I was already at The Wedding Feast, there was nothing that was going to keep me away. I became more determined than ever to really consider everything that the Catholic Church believed as The Truth. At one point, we were told something along the lines of, “You can’t slice up the Bible and just believe what you want to believe…you either accept all of it or what was the point in accepting any of it.” The thought being that we weren’t going to understand everything with human reasoning. Some things we were going to have to accept with faith. However, this really hit home for me. If I wanted to be in the light and at peace then I had to be open to and trust the teachings of the Church. After all, this is where I really believed God had brought me and if I didn’t then what was I doing here? Going back to the bleak emptiness I had before just didn’t seem like an option.
During this time, I changed a lot by just being open to accepting a different reality. Some things I came to see the truth in and others I had to accept with faith. Whether or not I actually understood why, I had to deny myself (my previous way of living) and I had to start living in a new reality, one more aligned with the actual teachings of Jesus.