Saturday, November 20, 2004

Turning Point (cont'd): Epiphany

A year had passed since I attended the first series of talks on the Catholic Church's teaching. Last Friday was the last of this year's series, and as I was talking to one of the (ACT) people who organized these, a question came up: "How do you become Catholic without [C]atechism?"

Catechism with capital C can happen anywhere I'd say. Let me explain a long story. (Well, I am the only intended audience — this post is fully meant to remind myself what I've gone through and where I'll be going — so any curious soul out there can skip this post rather than be misled into a maze :p) Parts of the following are taken from a correspondence with a priest:

I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and spent the last 11 years studying in Singapore. My parents were born into Taoist families, although my father was the only one out of 9 children who did not go to a Catholic mission school. All his siblings became Catholic, and my father sent me and my sisters to a convent school. You might've heard that autism in adults is often 'inherited' from their children (discovered in parents only when their children are diagnosed), and so similarly my parents 'inherit' Catholicism from their children.

Back home, we have religious education as a part of the vernacular curriculum, with state-administered examinations! In school, naturally, we began and ended each day with prayers, we attended Mass every wednesday, and First Communion prep classes were even held during normal class schedules.

Having spent 8 years in the Catholic school environment, I began to accept the teachings, and felt it was only a matter of time before i am formally received into the Church. My parents didn't share the same sentiment; and my mom was especially vocal against this. I left for Singapore upon entering secondary school, and what a difference it was — my school was highly secular and nearly all my classmates claimed no belief in God! I began atending sunday Mass at the Cathedral in 1994 with another non-Catholic friend, also an alumni of a convent school in Indonesia.

You can say that I was (and still is!) very much ignorant of the Church's teachings then, for despite being taught who Jesus is, and what the Eucharist and transubstantiation is, I never knew there was such a thing as RCIA! More than a year later, I told my parents that the time has come for me to profess what i believed in— and that is the Catholic Church's teaching. Being away from my parents accelerated that. My mother was particularly not pleased, and i expected a long uphill persuasion before she'd respect my desire. Each mass that i went to during that period beckoned me towards the Eucharist. There was a phrase spoken before communion that made me long for it: "Happy are those who are called to his supper."

One fine day a year later when I was home on vacation, we were baptized as a family. It was abrupt, and I was aught with guilt and doubt – not sure whether that baptism was valid for the huge lack of catechism. Those years in convent school no doubt helped; but there are many Catholic "traditions" that I never knew until I chanced them in my friends' behaviour, or in literature found distributed in the Church, or on the Internet.

From ACT and the pro-life movement, I have since found numerous sources of education from various sites on the Internet. I have followed closely the US election and the large-scale mobilization of the faithful Catholics to vote according to the Church's teachings.

So that's the sum of my Catechism: groping in the dark, not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I'm very firm that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For I know it is God whom I am journeying to.

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