When I was about to start kindergarten, I got it in my little, worrying mind that I was not cut out for “real” school. I had the distinct picture of a very strict teacher standing in front of a blackboard, calling me out, asking me the capitol of one of those African countries I’d never heard of. We didn’t cover that in pre-school! I was going to be a failure.
Guess what? Kindergartners are not required to know African capitals. In fact, I have never been asked what the capital of Togo or Chad is. But at the beginning of every school year through elementary and middle school, I was sure that this was the year my knowledge just wasn’t going to cut it, even though I was an A student the year before. There was so much to know about the world; I didn’t feel prepared or intelligent enough to move forward.
I feel that way now. There are so many things about Catholicism that I feel I have no preparation for. I can’t recite the Nicene Creed, I still don’t understand the Immaculate Conception, and why is fish not a meat? There are more saints than African capitals; how am I supposed to learn all this? I’m sure I’ll be a terrible, fumbling Catholic.
But it’s ok to feel out-of-place and ill-prepared on the first day of school (or RCIA). It’s not that I actually am ill-prepared; it’s just that there is so so much more to learn. But I don’t think God is going to pop-quiz me on 5th grade mysticism while I’m still a kindergarten candidate. I’m not required to be perfect right away, or ever. There will always more to learn. I will progress. At my own pace, maybe in a fumbling way at times, but I will learn and grow. And one day, I’ll get to take Mass like the big kids.