Because I Want to Stay Plugged In

Because I Want to Stay Plugged In December 14, 2009

Posted by Webster
My friend who has fallen away from the Church was making light of my conversion some months back. He said, “You just wait, Webster. When they see you want to get involved in the parish, there’s no end to what you’ll be asked to do.” My friend doesn’t know me that well, I guess. Because to get involved—as many hours a day as possible—is one big reason why I am Catholic.

I thought of this Sunday morning when I had the privilege of addressing this year’s RCIA class at our church. I started out by saying they could look at RCIA in two distinctly different ways: One, they could see it like driver’s education—do the work, pass the test, get your license, and you’re good to go. Two, they could see it as the beginning of the great adventure of their lives.

I said that for me Catholicism is nothing less than my great adventure, and I explained the many ways in which I’ve explored it in my two years in the Church. I encouraged them to consider some of these, dividing my suggestions into three groups: personal growth, service, and adventure.

Personal Growth

Service—I listed some of the volunteer organizations in our parish, including the Legion of Mary, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Pax Christi, and Communion & Liberation, then suggested some forms of service that I’ve found meaningful.

Adventure—I wanted the class to know that there really are adventures to be had, from worshiping at the Cathedral in Boston, to visiting shrines near and far, to going on retreat.

I ended by telling the RCIA class about my friend Frank Gaudenzi (left). No matter how early you arrive at daily mass in our church, you are likely to find Frank there ahead of you: on his knees in the front pew, unmoving, praying silently. Frank is 85 years old, and he is there every morning. Frank has a couple of great expressions. One, delivered with a fist pump, is “Go easy.” But my favorite is Frank’s secret to keeping your faith alive. It’s simple, Frank will tell you, “You have to stay plugged in.” For Frank that means being at his post every morning.

For me “staying plugged in” is the whole sense of my life as a Catholic. It’s just not enough to go to mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation, not for me. I’m too old, I’ve made too many mistakes, I need too much help now, not to allow the Church to inform every possible minute of my day.

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  • Webster: another great 'roadmap!' This is a superb summary for so many people, young and old who want to grow in their faith as Catholics. I'm printing this one put to use as a reminder and to set some personal goals for the new liturgical year. Question: Is the photo on this post of your RCIA group? Is your group really that large?! That would be an inspiration, if so.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks, Doc. No, not a photo of RCIA, which has only about 5-6 "sure things." The photo is the front of the church before or after Sunday mass. One thing I guess I didn't make clear in this post: It's not just that I want to do all these things; it's that the Catholic church has all these things to do! I mean, what Protestant denominations offer: daily services, Adoration or anything like it, and so on. The Catholic Church is a full-time spiritual program, isn't it? Backed up by two thousand years of Catholic-based culture.

  • Like Webster says and Amen! My parish has about 35-Candidates and Catechuman (not sure the split)which is really amazing!

  • Maria

    And the Holy Mother Church will take you, right where you are, just as you are, no questions asked. No sin too big. There are not enough years in my life to learn everything there is to know about Catholicism. And that it a part of her great beauty. It IS the great adventure.Maria

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks for that, Maria. Good thoughts for a long, complicated day!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Webster,I'm an anglo catholic in UK and recently went to venerate the relics of St Theresa of Lisieux and my heart was on fire for the next couple of days. I love my rosary and the magnificat and I want more and more of Jesus. Everything you say makes sense and I guess I just want to say thank you and don't stop!

  • Webster Bull

    Wow, anglo-catholic in UK, what a great comment! I'd love to know more about your life there.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Webster, (anglo-catholic in UK here) I became a Chrisitan when I was 16 through an evangelical happy-clappy church (don't know what you'd call it!) but there was no love and I was hurt so badly that I believed I was unacceptable to everyone, including God. So I left and took my 3 small children to the nearest Anglican church and there they loved me. Looking back I guess I was pretty weird as I was very depressed but they just let me be me and took me on pilgrimage to a place called Walsingham where God began to heal me. 5 years down the line, He heals me a little more every time I go there. Since venerating St.Theresa's relics, I've finally reached a place where I can accept all that's happened to me because without it I wouldn't be where I am now. I'm sacristan now at my church so I won't be leaving anytime soon but I kind of know in my heart that one day I'll convert to Rome. It feels so right for me and I love to go to my local church and pray the rosary before mid-week mass but I don't feel in any hurry. I totally trust God and His timing for me, and after all I went through at my old church I never thought I'd be trusting God again ever. And I agree with you about the Imitation. I love mine too!

  • Webster Bull

    Hey AC/UK, I have no idea what it would be like to attend an evangelical ("happy clappy") church here, never did that, but I can tell you some important differences between my experience in the Episcopal Church of my youth and the Catholic Church today. That was wealthy, well-dressed, class-conscious, status-conscious. This is mixed in every way, "messy," to use George Weigel's term, with a few wealthy people thrown in for diversity's sake. As I've written elsewhere, though my socio-economic background is on the wealthy side of the spectrum, I have never felt more at home, more accepted for who I am, more loved for what? for me? not even that, just LOVED — than I do every morning at mass, or any time I go to men's group, Adoration, even confession. I'm touched by your account of venerating the relics of St. Therese, the Little Flower. If you ever feel like writing that up in a longer version, it might be something worth publishing here as a guest post. I knew nothing about Therese before converting, and now, wow. And a Doctor of the Church to boot!Merry Christmas, AC/UK!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Webster, AC/UK here. Actually my name's Su Yam and I've just tried to send you something about my visit to the relics of St Therese of Lisieux but it was too long and couldn't be accepted! Any suggestions as to how else I can get it to you?

  • Webster Bull

    Hey AC/UK, sorry to take long getting back to you but I'm mostly out of internet range on vacation. Would love to have your thoughts. (a) you can break the comment into sections, or (b) you can send it to me by e-mail and I will consider it as a "guest post" in the main body of the blog. My e-mail is Christmas!