Advice Needed


#1

My return to the Catholic Church has not been a great experience. Granted, I was gone several years and I had lived where there were many churches to choose from.

But now I’m in a small southern town. Catholics are a minority and there is one parish with two churches.

First, there was the difference in the Mass. People waving their arms during the Lord’s Prayer and looking like they were being transported to heaven. Refusing to adopt the new liturgy. You’ve got half saying “And with your spirit” and half saying “and also with your spirit.”

The congregation is very cliquey. I admit I’m different. But it is a Christian church and I expect it to be a little more accepting. You can’t say hello to someone once a week? If they see me in the store, they avoid me so they don’t have to acknowledge me. Not all but most.

There is a young woman with obvious mental issues. I was the only person who talked to her willingly. I found her interesting. She sees St. Francis. He talks to her. I told her he was one of my favorite saint and she gave me a St. Francis medal which I wear everyday. Other people do talk to her when she forces herself on them but only because they have to.

So now, the priest who I have known for years here is leaving. I have never known what to do during reconciliation. Is it a big secret? Every time I go, it’s different. I have to read the Act of Contrition although I’m not stupid so I imagine I could Google it and memorize it.

He was never really a user friendly priest but I did get to like him. When I found out he was leaving, I asked if I could set up an appt for reconciliation before he went because he knows my whole long sordid past which I always have to explain to a new priest. Not because I don’t think I’ve been forgiven but because it’s essential information to my present day sins. When I asked him, he made a face. I emailed him and said I could meet at his convenience. He never replied. This was how I normally set up the appointments.

So I decided to risk not dying in the near future and wait for the new priest. And then wait a couple weeks more because I have to go through the whole long history thing and even though I do it fast, it’s still time consuming. And he’s going to have a lot on his plate at first.

Our present pastor left Monday. This weekend we have a visiting priest. Where is the new pastor? All I know is his name. I’ve never seen him.

What if I get sick? Who comes to the hospital? I’m not even thinking about getting into a car accident and dying because I need to go to confession.

Is it this way everywhere? The parish I belonged to before was large. I had my pick of churches and Masses there. If I couldn’t make it to my parish for some reason, I could find a Mass to go to. Now, it’s go to one of three Masses or don’t go at all.

I know I sound like I’m whining. But I sit through this long service where they sing every single thing that can be sung and I just zone out. And the congregation does not sing. It’s just the cantor and maybe two other people. I feel like I’m not even there. Six verses later, I’m trying to concentrate and then the lady with dementia stands up for the tenth time and tries to leave and I start wondering if she’s more in touch than me.

I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic school for several years. I really feel like I’m not even Catholic any more. I’m certainly not a power of example for anyone.

The only thing I can think of to do is to email this one lady who is some kind of spiritual advisor. She’s one of the ones who looks at me like I’m strange. I am strange. But I figure she will meet with me and maybe if I tell her my whole history she will be more understanding and can advise me on what to do.

I am curious as to what people think. Am I just being some kind of drama queen here? And yes, I know this post is tl;dr (too long, didn’t read:)


#2

So many questions, but I'm more than happy to read it all.
My advice is that if there is another church, anywhere it is probably worth it to drive a bit extra, you'll really feel that its worth it. That is from personal experience.
Know that there may be a shortage of priests in that area and they may be trying their best to find someone willing to go there.
Know that all churches are different and operate in various different ways but really, I'd suggest talking to a priest or contact someone in that department in the diocese about your doubts.
I personally would just attend and make the best I can out of it.
I guess maybe as you get to know people better you may find that you could get used to it, It is probably a hard moment having to change from your more comfortable environment.
How long have you been there for?
Maybe people are unsure of talking to you down the street because you're new.
Sometimes people can be very... Judgemental especially if you have not been to church in a while or are new or converted.
It's probably best to ask your priest the questions you posted on here, he may be able to help you understand what is happening.

That young lady seems nice, know that although there are some bad things, that there are indeed good things too.
Maybe you're just going through a hard time and are having trouble accepting the church for whatever reason, I'm not sure.:shrug:

But I really do wish you all the luck with your decisions regarding the church and will pray for your guidance.
:gopray2:


#3

There are a lot of issues in your post so I'll just focus on the one that stuck out for me.

So I decided to risk not dying in the near future and wait for the new priest. And then wait a couple weeks more because** I have to go through the whole long history **thing and even though I do it fast, it's still time consuming. And he's going to have a lot on his plate at first

It's really not necessary for the priest to know your whole history. He just needs to know the sins you've recently committed and need absolution for, you don't need to go into an explanation of why you sinned or what was going on or anything else at all. You know it's a sin, you confess it, and he absolves you. If you're not sure if it's a sin you can tell him that and he'll ask you for details as he needs them. Your history would maybe be helpful for your spiritual director but that's not what confession is for. Not that a priest can't act in that capacity, but you need to see him privately for that (after first asking if he is willing and able to be your spiritual director).


#4

Thank you for wading through that long kind of rambling post.

I live in rural Appalachia. There is no other church. This is it. I have been attending here for five years. In fact, even if I wanted to go to another church, I take an elderly woman to Mass who fell over the winter and broke her wrist and can't drive. I feel obligated to do that no matter how I feel about the church. She likes it.

There is a new priest assigned to this church. I just don't know where he is or when he's coming or who is ministering to the congregation right now.

I adopted a policy long ago of smiling and saying hello to everyone no matter how they respond. That is all I can do. It's on them not me. I may be different than they are but I hardly think that is something to judge someone on. I sit there and listen to the readings about helping the poor, Jesus taking up for the sinners, etc and then the homily about loving everyone and wonder how they justify how they act. I may not be the only one zoning out.

Really, I think that is my major problem. I go to church because I have to at this point. I no longer even want to. You might say I should be going for the Eucahrist but it is about community too. St. Paul didn't leave the apostles to carry on without his letters and they supported one another. That's community.

The mentally ill girl was just an example of how they judge someone without even listening to them. I did listen and I found her very intriguing. There is a close association between mental illness and creativity. And maybe she really does talk to St. Francis. Just because she's a little off doesn't mean everything is a hallucination.

I could go to any protestant church in this area and there are probably hundreds of them and be accepted totally and welcomed. I know this from other people's experiences. They don't seem to have the same righteous spirit that allows them to ignore the sinners and hang with the saints. So to speak.

And yes, I have had some personal issues over the past few years. Every single one of my close friends has died. I really have no close friends now. It bothers me a lot that church is the one place I should be able to look for friends but it would be the last place I'd do that. The south is very faith based and most church communities are a large part of people's lives. I don't know why Catholics act so differently. But the do here.

And I actually do have to cover a little history to explain my current sins. It's hard to explain without going into detail but it is relevant. I don't go on for an hour. Just a brief synopsis. I only have to do this because it is a new priest. I treat confession as an ongoing process of improving not a laundry list of what I did wrong. I have confessed a serious sin without doing the history to a visiting priest but I want a confessional relationship with my pastor. Is that wrong? I really don't feel very Catholic at this point so I don't know if I'm being unrealistic or not.


#5

So I decided to risk not dying in the near future and wait for the new priest.

None of this is funny but you have to admit there is some humor in the above statement, I can hear Jesus laughing lol.

No you are not "strange", stop that. You're a sensitive, caring person (ok, maybe that IS strange these days! :rolleyes: How do you know the young woman who speaks to St. Francis is mentally ill? Maybe she DOES. :shrug: But even if she is mentally ill, look how caring you are and compassionate. The arm waving, etc., is part of certain protestant services and down South maybe it's a carry over. Praise and worship is huge in many baptist and evangelical churches, can take up to an hour per service. As for the concerts you have to endure, well as a cantor I can tell you that I choose hymns (based upon the guide provided for each Sunday) that the congregation knows (because I've repeated them so often) and even take them down half step to minor third to make it easier for the congregation to sing. And still, there are times when just a few people sing with me, very frustrating but that's the way it is.

I don't know why you feel you need to repeat your entire life story to a priest in order to go to address present day errors in the confessional. That sounds more like you need a spiritual director, not only a regular confessor. And it puts me in mind of a scene from a movie where one actor tells another that he can't stand the thought of changing therapists because it's a whole big giant story lol.

God knows your heart. I'm fairly sure that, should you choke on a fish bone and leave this world, He would be perfectly aware that you were unable to find a priest for reconciliation. The world is becoming a weird place. Certain numbers of us ("strange" as we are) appear to be taking the brunt of an awful lot of chaos, some of it annoying, some of it horrific, all of it just so darn exhausting. Pray for peace and read the NT. Say the rosary every day, bring these things to your Mother, Mary. And I don't think you're "strange", I think you're terrific. :thumbsup:


#6

I feel for you. My husband left the Church for many years because the urban parish he was raised near was very similar to what you describe. When he decided to go back to the faith he went hunting for a suitable church. We found a welcoming church with a wonderful priest and a very lively congregation. In order to attend that specific church we drive about 45 minutes one way when there are literally 2 Catholic churches within a few miles of our house.

If driving to another church and taking the elderly lady you drive with you is out of the question then I suggest praying and having some patience. Maybe the new priest will be a friendly and caring man who breathes new life into the parish.

I wouldn’t be too offended when people don’t act very friendly toward you. Maybe it’s because you are newer to the area and they aren’t ready to accept you fully yet. Just keep smiling and being friendly. Eventually, hopefully, they will accept you as one of their own.


#7

Thanks everyone for the responses. You all gave me a lot to think about.

I decided to get in touch with the woman I think is some kind of spiritual director. I know she has been trained and taken a lot of courses approved by the Catholic Church. I was going to email her but she usually goes to the same Mass I do. So I thought why not talk to her in person? In front of whoever is sitting with her. Just lay it out for her. I'm sure she's not going to say no.

I will explain to her exactly how I feel and get her feedback as a very active member of the congregation.

As for the liturgy itself, I really have no control over that. I just do what I can to stay in touch with what is going on. Like when they chant the Lord's Prayer, I say it in my head because chanting it takes so long I lose track of what I'm even chanting.

And the cantor does have my sympathy because she has to stand up there and sing basically by herself. I have no idea who decides on the music but if it's people in the congregation then they should at least sing along.

Hopefully, the new pastor will be here soon. He may already be here and just not saying masses yet.


#8

[quote="ellzeena, post:5, topic:330075"]
God knows your heart. I'm fairly sure that, should you choke on a fish bone and leave this world, He would be perfectly aware that you were unable to find a priest for reconciliation. The world is becoming a weird place. Certain numbers of us ("strange" as we are) appear to be taking the brunt of an awful lot of chaos, some of it annoying, some of it horrific, all of it just so darn exhausting. Pray for peace and read the NT. Say the rosary every day, bring these things to your Mother, Mary. And I don't think you're "strange", I think you're terrific. :thumbsup:

[/quote]

Agreed! :thumbsup:


#9

[quote="GoneAstray, post:7, topic:330075"]

Hopefully, the new pastor will be here soon. He may already be here and just not saying masses yet.

[/quote]

I hope so too - maybe some of the things that are bothering you will become better. I also want to express my condolences for your losses.

May God grant you the peace and acceptance you long for, and may He guide you and your parish members into more perfect harmony and friendship.


#10

I'll tell you what to do:

1) LEARN THE OUR FATHER IN LATIN BY HEART
2) CARRY ON GOING TO MASS AND SUFFER WITH THE MARTYRS
3) ONE DAY WHEN YOU GET REALY FED UP WITH ALL OF THE CONGREGATION DON'T SAY THE OUR FATHER IN ENGLISH WITH THE REST OF THE CONGEGATION BUT RECITE IT IN LATIN
4) THINK ABOUT KNEELING OR BOWING BEFORE YOU TAKE THE HOST
5) PRAY HOPE AND DON'T WORRY

personaly I think that you are a bit of a saint because you look around you when you go to mass.... well done... keep it up.


#11

[quote="poustiniak, post:10, topic:330075"]
I'll tell you what to do:

1) LEARN THE OUR FATHER IN LATIN BY HEART
2) CARRY ON GOING TO MASS AND SUFFER WITH THE MARTYRS
3) ONE DAY WHEN YOU GET REALY FED UP WITH ALL OF THE CONGREGATION DON'T SAY THE OUR FATHER IN ENGLISH WITH THE REST OF THE CONGEGATION BUT RECITE IT IN LATIN
4) THINK ABOUT KNEELING OR BOWING BEFORE YOU TAKE THE HOST
5) PRAY HOPE AND DON'T WORRY

personaly I think that you are a bit of a saint because you look around you when you go to mass.... well done... keep it up.

[/quote]

I really like this answer because it is so pro-active. The OP is not a victim, but she somehow is taking on a victim mentality. If she leaves the RC church because of the many things she dislikes about that specific church, she leaves the Eucharist. It is for Jesus we are there. As this poster said, OP, do as suggested and offer your discomfort and feeling of not being accepted to the Lord for the souls in purgatory (especially your friends whom have gone before you and may be in need of prayer.) There's stuff that goes on in church that bothers me, too. I fix my eyes on the Divine Mercy picture when I'm feeling upset or annoyed. Works every time.


#12

OP,

I encourage you to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation even if the new pastor is not yet there. There is no reason to ‘risk it’ if there is a priest available just because you *prefer *an established relationship with your confessor. Take what you can get for now.

My prayers are with you.


#13

GoneAstray, I was very taken by your post.

Our Lady will take care of you. Do you pray the Rosary every day? If not, please consider doing so. If you do not want to pray five decades, maybe one decade prayed well each day.

In the meantime, I will keep you in my prayers. That woman that claims to see St. Francis must be an interesting one, and I am certain that you will be rewarded for not shunning her as the other parishioners either have or seem to do.

God bless you! You **will ** be all right. Just keep going. If you get discouraged, come here and talk to us. There will always be someone here happy to encourage you to continue going forward. :thumbsup:


#14
  • I was the only person who talked to her willingly. I found her interesting. She sees St. Francis. He talks to her. I told her he was one of my favorite saint and she gave me a St. Francis medal which I wear everyday.*

~ this is beautiful :signofcross:

I think I was led to read this post today, right now. A "needed to hear." thank you for opening up, helpful to someone passing by~

Blessings


#15

Sorry to bump this but I thought I would update everyone on what happened with our church. We got a new pastor who is young and wonderful. He seems truly spiritual and kind and friendly. However, that could be a problem because he keeps saying "We have to do this and that together" and he will need to exert some authority with this congregation or they'll be bringing in pit vipers next.

Last weekend, we had a visiting priest from India. The keyboard player wasn't there so there were two cantors. One of them is a young woman. She just got married a couple months ago. She started wearing a veil last week. I thought she was going back to the old school way of woman dressing for Mass.

I asked someone why she was wearing a veil. She's becoming a nun. How can she become a nun? She just got married. They told me she was divorced now. At one point during the Mass when she was kneeling, she threw the veil over her face. I hate to admit I spent more time looking at her than paying attention. I kept wondering if she really could become a nun. Doesn't she need an annulment?

The homily was 45 minutes long. It was about raising money for something I could never figure out. People were very generous in the collection though. One man fell asleep and snored so loud he woke himself up.

When we got to the Holy, Holy, Holy acclamation, the cantors started singing the hymn not the acclamation. The congregation joined in and then as everyone realized it was wrong, it just kind of trailed off and the priest who looked perturbed took over by saying it. After that, he jumped right in and we didn't sing anything else.

I also left after Communion. I was brain dead at that point. I wasn't staying for the announcments which consists of everything in the bulletin and then applauding all the vistors, birthdays and anniversaries. Half the congregation left at that point.

I haven't gone to confession yet. I'm still trying to figure out if I can make an appointment. This priest does not have an email address which is probably a good move on his part. But the church secretary is generally clueless so I haven't even called yet. I figure he's very busy too. They only have one half hour before Mass for official confessions. It's not very private either. People walk in on you to talk to the priest. So I do want an appointment where he can shut the door and there is no one around.

The other alternative is just to write down what I want to say and go to the regular confession and go as fast as I can.

I hope the new priest gets to stay. If things continue to move towards the Protestant evangelical movement and get to the point where you don't even know you're at Mass, I have a feeling they'll send him somewhere else.


#16

I'm not sure about the woman who wished to become a nun. It's a long process, so maybe she has applied for annulment and is "on hold" officially until it is approved? We don't know the circumstances of the marriage. Maybe it was invalid from the start due to something simple like he had been previously married. In a case like that it's possible to get a Decree of Nullity within a few weeks.

I am glad you like the new priests personality. SNAFU's can happen when a new priest comes in while he gets used to everyone and they get used to him. Maybe he will have a chat with everyone and get mass back on track.

Call the church office and leave a message with the secretary to make an appointment with the priest. Then ask if you can leave another on the priests voice mail. Talk to him about your concerns and about Confession. How can anything change if no one lets him know changes are needed?


#17

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