Adelina Loo sponsors her husband, Ignatius Tham, on the RCIA journey and is rewarded with more than she had dared to expect.
THIS EASTER HAS a special meaning to me. It is a day that I have been looking forward to for 10 years - the day that my husband, Ignatius, will attend Mass not merely as a companion but to partake in the Communion with me!
Though I have been a Catholic for 12 years, having to juggle studies and work and the constant pursuit of reaching yet another higher level of the corporate ladder had turned me into an occasional Catholic. Attending Mass had never been a priority.
Left, Adelina Loo and Ignatius Tham consecrated their wedding in preparation for Ignatius' baptism at Easter, a dream come true for the couple.
While I did pray for the strengthening of my faith during the 12 years, the prayers were more of a "casual talk" with God. It was our way of communicating since my childhood. However in mid-2005, the spiritual part of me started to wake up. I chose to ignore it. But the calling got stronger. Finally, in early March 2006, I decided to heed that calling to renew my faith through RCIA.
It was Ignatius' birthday. I took that opportunity to send him an e-card to convey my intention to join the RCIA as it was, after all, a 15-month journey. Though I did not expect any objection, I was not hoping for enthusiastic support either, given Ignatius' nonchalant attitude towards Catholicism.
Guess what? Two days later, I got my prayers answered, a surprise present from him (God). I received an e-card from Ignatius informing me that he was ready for the faith and would like to join me for the RCIA. It was the most shocking news I've received, you bet!
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Sometimes we couldn't stop wondering how thing could happen so "coincidentally" and timely? In April 2005, something unimaginable happened. Ignatius' parents who had always been fervent Taoists, decided to send their ancestors' and deities' altars to the temple. Somehow, that action gave Ignatius a never-before sense of relief.
In February 2006, we were invited to attend a friend's infant's baptism. That baptism was the perfect plan of God, and the seed of conversion was finally planted into Ignatius. Since that Mass, he felt a strange closeness to God, one that grew stronger with each passing day. So, here we are! Journeying together, growing and renewing our faiths.
This journey has not only deepened our understanding of the Catholic faith, it has also recharged us with new found strength, rekindled the fire in us, and has opened our hearts and minds to the people around us.
Seeing our fellow parishioners having deep faith in God despite facing great difficulties in their lives and not losing hope in God when things do not go their way have been the most heartening.
While we experienced joy, hope and love, our RCIA journey had not been without its difficulties. We also experienced sadness and illnesses.
For someone who only took two days medical leave once yearly/bi-yearly; falling ill every month since the start of the journey was definitely trying spiritually. On the other hand, Ignatius was constantly faced with a battle of faith versus logic. Questions like "Did Jesus really create these miracles? Did he really die for our sins? Did Adam and Eve really exist?" kept coming into his mind.
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Coupled with my constant sickness, his faith wavered and he contemplated quitting the journey. We prayed for strength, and strength we found in the Book of Job. The support from the RCIA team was especially important to us. So, we regained our ground and here we are, almost reaching the end of the RCIA journey. Though I'm still being tested with constant sickness, we have faith in God.
With our deepening faith, we were able to experience God's unfaltering and unconditional love. And it is this love that brings about a new beginning to our love and married life. From a marriage full of squabbles over every other issue, be it big or small, we have come to acknowledge each other's shortcomings and be there for each other in good and bad times.
Oh, I almost forgot. I had my dream come true! We consecrated our wedding in church last September, as required by the church in order for Ignatius to be baptized. Though it was a simple ceremony with no wedding gown and lavish decorations, it was the most heavenly wedding celebration we had, as compared to our Registry of Marrriage and customary Chinese ceremony.
Our wedding hymn, "Where Love is Found", says it all. The last month of preparation towards baptism has been intense but enlightening. The three scrutinies helped us reflect on our lives deeply, and the intercessions during Sunday Masses have further assured our Elect that the whole Catholic community are with them in their preparation.
We found that active participation in church activities and strong support from the church community are vital in strengthening our faith and bringing us closer to God. As the RCIA is drawing to a close, we are already looking into other areas to further assimilate into the Catholic community.
For a start, we attended our first monthly group rosary prayer session in our neighbourhood. Also, when planning for our holiday overseas, visiting churches and attending Mass have formed part of the itinerary. It is our proactive way of bringing God into our lives.
The RCIA journey has not only given us the opportunity to learn about the Catholic faith, it is also a chance for non-Catholics and lay Catholics like us to reflect upon ourselves, our relationship with the people around us, and it brings us closer to God.
Finally, if there is one thing that we want to say to God now, it is "thank you". You have miraculously opened our hearts and minds, have healed and strengthened our relationship, and have brought us closer to you in YOUR own ways.