Welcome to the RCIA blog for Sts. Peter & Paul

Breaking open His Word

The first section in each of our weekly blogs will look to the scriptures for the coming Sunday Mass.   This week we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension.  Technically this is celebrated 40 days after Easter (this Thursday) but the US Bishops gave the option of celebrating this feast on the following Sunday and throughout the churches in Texas this is the practice.  A later blog will look at our “liturgical” calendar, don’t worry about it now.  The focus for this section is on helping you prepare for Sunday Mass.

Take a few moments to prayerfully read Acts 1:1-11   (You can go to usccb.org to get the readings for the day by clicking on the May 17th date in the calendar.)  What word or phrase struck you as you read the passage?  Pause with it in prayer and speak to our Lord.

For me it was “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?  I imagine at least one of the apostles turned and looked at these two men and said something to the effect, “didn’t you see that man sail up into the sky!”  Who wouldn’t be staring at the cloud? I think the point these men (angels) are making is that their job isn’t worrying about when is the time for restoring the kingdom  or where did Jesus go, but that they (and we today) need to stop gawking at the sky and get to work,  being witnesses to the Good News. You’ll hear this theme throughout the other readings as well (Ephesians 1:17-23 & Mark 16:15-20).  Again I invite you to prayerfully read these passages and think about what words or images strike you and why?  How do these readings challenge you?   Have you ever thought that you, too, have been commissioned to be Jesus’ witness?  What does that  mean to you personally?

What’s happening at Mass?

The second part of each week’s blog will highlight a part of the Mass and give an explanation of what is happening during it.  We’ll start with what happens when we come into the church.  As you enter the church you will find a holy water font.  People dip their right hand in the font and make the sign of the cross, going from forehead to chest, to left shoulder and then to right shoulder.  The purpose of this symbolic action has many layers. It reminds us that we are home when we enter the church no matter how far from our geographic home we may be. When we first came to church we were baptized and welcomed into the family of God, made his child.  The sign of the cross was traced on our forehead to show we had been claimed by God and were marked as belonging to him.  This symbolic marking on our forehead is a visible sign of the mark placed on our soul. It is meant to remind us of “who we are and whose we are”,  a child of God. We use the holy water to remind us that after being marked, we were washed clean of sin through the waters of baptism and given the new life of grace. It is through these living waters that we enter into the family of God, his Church.

When people reach the pew (bench) they genuflect (go down on their right knee) before entering.  Just as when you enter someone’s house during a party or gathering you go and find the host and “pay your respects” to them, so too, after entering the church we first “pay our respects” to the host, Jesus Christ. We genuflect toward the tabernacle. In our church this is located in the front of the church behind the altar. It is pictured above (on the right). The act of genuflecting (or bowing) is a sign of reverence to our Lord and God. The tabernacle is where the blessed, or consecrated, hosts are placed after communion.  We believe that the bread (hosts) and wine become Jesus himself, His body and blood, after the priest repeats the words first uttered by Jesus at the Last Supper, “this is my body…this is my blood”. It is a sign we use to show our adoration to our Lord.  Once in the pew you’ll notice people kneel down in prayer. Let’s use the analogy of “paying our respects” to the host of a gathering once again. We take time to talk with them, thank them for the invitation and just talk about how things are going in our lives.  Guess what, we are doing the same thing when we kneel down in prayer.  Take time to thank God for the past week, let Him know how things went (yes He already knows but its good for us to remember and speak to Him about the week). We can ask forgiveness for where we have failed to live up to our call, ask help for those in need and put anything that concerns us before Him and ask Him to guide us through these issues.

What are your questions?

This period of the RCIA process is called the “Inquiry Stage”.  It’s a time for you to ask your questions and get some answers.  Please feel free to ask whatever is on your mind about us crazy Catholics from what are you doing questions—-  “What are you doing when you make all those signs all over the place after they say a reading from the gospel according to….” , to the deeper questions— “Whats the difference between a Catholic and Protestant Bible? Just what is purgatory? I’ve heard Catholics believe….?   Send them in and I’ll try to address one or more each week. You can do this by posting them in the comment box below or if you prefer to do it privately just email me at billsmith@sppnb.org.

Post your comments

We, all of us, need to hear your thoughts and responses as well. Please don’t hesitate to share them as a post by writing them in the comment space below. This will allow all to join in the conversation.

Bill Smith



  1. Ruth Ann Kramer said,

    May 17, 2012 at 13:25

    Thank you Bill, this does interest me as a way to continue to connect with St. Peter & Paul as I travel and to share. You and everyone that I met and worked with there are in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. txblade said,

    May 17, 2012 at 14:35

    The RCIA course 2011-12 was a wonderful experience, my life has truly changed over the last few months and all through God and with a little help from Sts. Peter & Paul. 🙂 – if anyone has any questions regarding the RCIA process from a students point of view please don’t hesitate to ask me but Bill, Don & Deacon Rusty did / do an outstanding job.
    God Bless.

  3. Les Haas said,

    May 18, 2012 at 17:35

    Thank you for sharing this with everyone,
    and I think it is a great tool for anyone who is participating in RCIA.

    I also was a part of the 2011-2012 RCIA course and found it to be highly rewarding.
    Bill Smith, Don Maxwell, and Deacon Rusty Brandt do a fantastic job.
    I always had lots of questions and they were always very helpful.
    I also found that many fellow parishioners at Sts Peter and Paul were more than willing to help during our formation of faith as well.

    I recommend that everyone going into RCIA take full advantage of every class.
    Also there are many helpful books, sites,and apps if you want to know more information in your spare time.

    NABRE first and foremost
    1) Catechism of The Catholic Church
    2) United States Catholic Catechism for Adults
    3) Conpendium of the Catechism
    4) The Art of Loving God ,and Intro to the Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales
    ( I recommend to read up on the Saints if you can)
    5) Butlers Lives of The Saints
    6) Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI
    There are many more that Bill, Don or Deacon Rusty can give you info about.

    1) catholic.com
    2) beginningcatholic.com
    3) Vatican.va

    Apps I’ve used for iPhone

    1) iPieta
    2) Catholic NAB bible app ( of you want a copy for your phone)
    3) iMissal
    4) iConfession
    5) Divine Mercy
    6) Laudate
    7) MassTimes ( The Catholic Directory)
    8) Mary
    9) Prayers (divine office)
    10) Truth and Life audio Bible

    Remember conversion is a life long process and you will constantly be growing in your formation of faith. I’ve suggested a few things that may help you along the way I hope.
    Take advantage of all the activities the Church provides as much as you can(adoration,prayer groups,praying the Rosary and many many more),
    and remember that your sponsor is always close to help guide you.

    Last, but certainly not least, go to Mass every week.
    This is a must for all catechumens and candidates.
    Thank you for your time and I hope this is a little help to anyone beginning/going through RCIA. Peace be with you all, and God Bless.

    Les Haas

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