Beginner Questions

I’ve recently started to open my heart back up to my Catholic faith, and I have a lot of questions, but no one to ask them to, so I was hoping someone could help me.

Now, to give a little bit of a background: my entire family is Catholic, I was baptized when I was younger, I haven’t gone to mass in 10+ years. I’ve never truly lost my faith, but the last time I went to mass was when I was very young, so I really don’t remember much (the last time I went, I still responded with, “and also with you”, so there’s that). To sum this up, I’m very much a beginner (I don’t even know if I’m posting in the right forum).

What would y’all recommend me to do to ease my way back and have a deeper understanding with my faith? This can be anything, from what bibles to use to what a bible verse constitutes.

Also, I want to start attending mass again, but I’m a little lost here as well. I’m a student, and there’s chapel on my college campus where they have daily mass. I want to attend, but the thought itself is daunting. What can I expect? Do people usually genuflect at daily masses? What if there’s no tabernacle? Should I receive Communion? What even is reconciliation and what does it entail?

Sorry this is long, but thank you in advance!

The Mass responses here:

  1. Read the NABRE Bible, speak to a Catholic priest, and read the Catechism and Compendium.
  2. Reconciliation is confession. You may only receive the Eucharist in a state of grace (no mortal sin.) Mortal sin is grave matter, full knowledge it’s a sin, and full consent for doing it.
  3. Genuflect at Daily Mass. There should be a Tabernacle there. The Mass must off the Eucharist!
    Pray a lot and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you! God bless!
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Welcome home!

Go to mass, and just watch. Follow along in the missal. Stand, sit, kneel.

You don’t say whether you have ever made your communion or confirmation. Reconciliation is confession. You should go to confession if you have made your first communion and want to receive again.

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Hello! Welcome back!

#1-- The Mass is split into two parts. The first part is the Liturgy of the World and involves listening to various Bible verses being read. (Old Testament, a Psalm, usually a letter from Paul, a Gospel, etc.) The second half is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and involves the Sacrifice of the Mass. Think of it as being a sort of supernatural time-travel to being present at Calvary. You participate in the Eucharist by your presence, but you don’t get into line for Communion unless you’ve gone through a particular process first.

#2-- You genuflect to show respect. Think of it like a bow or a curtsey. You bow to a king or queen-- you direct your genuflection to Jesus present in the Eucharist. You bow to the king’s throne, even if it’s empty, as a sign of respect— you genuflect towards the tabernacle or the altar. (Unless it’s Good Friday, and the tabernacle is empty.)

#3-- Sit a little bit in the middle, so that you’re close enough to the front to hear/see/follow along, but you have enough people sitting in front of you to copy their actions. :slight_smile:

#4-- There are different Sacraments. So just like someone doesn’t say, “Hey, I’m a priest” without going through the Sacrament of Ordination, someone doesn’t just wander into Confession or present themselves in the Communion line without going through a few classes to understand what’s going on. Basically, Sacraments are physical signs of a spiritual reality. So we see what’s going on physically— the classes are to teach you about what’s going on that we can’t perceive with our senses. You can check into your parish’s RCIA classes to get that ball rolling, so that you can participate fully— but in the meantime, just attending Mass and absorbing what you can is an excellent start!

Good luck on your path! :green_heart:

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You don’t sound well catechized so I would also check into attending RCIA.

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I would recommend you go and acquaint yourself with some of the more actively involved types at your college chapel. Maybe they have a group you can spend some time with that will help you find your own place among your peers - thereby learning your faith and finding a way to live it in the “everyday” life at the same time. If you have a campus minister associated with the chapel, that person (I presume a priest) will be an invaluable resource to you as well.

Don’t hesitate to just go to Mass. Sit where you can see the altar and what others are doing. In the US, Mass readings are based on the NABRE version of the Bible (here: The Order of Mass with responses can be found online many places and is usually available in most chapels somewhere - you may just have to ask. However, don’t get bogged down in trying to get it right. You’ll get it with time. Just soak it in.

The tabernacle may or may not be in view. If it is, genuflecting is appropriate. If not, bow to the altar. Follow what the others do. I’d recommend you not receive communion until you’ve talked to a priest and made a good confession.

Otherwise, talk to people, read, and ask questions. Welcome home!

This would be my recommendation as well. You will find the answers you are looking for there.

First, take a breath.
Second, seek counsel with a priest.
Third, welcome back to the Church.
May all CAF brothers and sister pray for your journey back to the Church. :pray::pray::pray::blush:

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Here’s a video of a man who returned to the Catholic Faith after an absence of over 30 years. His conversion story is remarkable- and for 20 years he’s been giving talks after founding the apostolate Pilgrims of Love. Here is one of his many talks worth listening to to help you return to practicing the faith

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Perhaps reading a book like “Catholicism All-In-One For Dummies” or “Catholicism for Dummies” would be a good way to begin.

The church has a process called Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Part of it is “4 Preparation of Uncatechized Adults for Confirmation and Eucharist”.

It begins with: “376 The following pastoral guidelines concern adults who were baptised as infants but did not receive further catechetical formation nor, consequently, the sacraments of confirmation
and eucharist.”

More information about this is at page 37 of the document at

See your pastor. He will welcome you back and advise you. I would recommend Fr. Trigilio’s book ‘Catholicism for Dummies.’

Welcome back!

I came back almost 10 years ago after a 40 year hiatus, and you think you are confused. When I had last gone to Mass, they had just switched from Latin.

I did RCIA. Also, check out if there is a Catholics Come Home or Remembering the Church program at one of the parishes near you. These programs are specifically designed to answer your questions and lead you back. They are not everywhere though so many parishes will use RCIA instead. Mine did.
Catholicism For Dummies is also good. Another is Why Do Catholics Do That. Many times the local parish will have these in a parish library. So might you College Library and if not, you can borrow them through Inter-Library Loan (ILL).

Good luck,

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Nice, easy-to-read book called The How-To Book of the Mass. By Michael Dubruiel. It has step-by-step guidelines and it walks you through the Mass. What do you do first, and why do we do that? Walks you through the Mass. On front cover it says, Everything You Need to Know But No One Ever Taught You. This can usually be bought second-hand for a few dollars. Best book ever for learning how to “do” the Mass.

Depends, what sort of learner are you?

Do you like books? Videos? is given free by many parishes, or it costs about the same as NetFlix. There is more on there than you can even imagine :slight_smile: Videos, studies, books, audios, even an audio Bible!

Give it a try before buying a bunch of books

Welcome back!
I would advise contacting your college chaplaincy. They specialise in helping students who are either new to the faith or returning after a break. Chaplains are almost universally delighted to welcome new students and make them feel at home.
Don’t feel daunted, the college chaplaincy is there for you. Often there is some kind of Mass card that tells you what to say, and just copy the others around you with regards to kneeling and so on.
Probably a fair few of the other people there were in the same situation you are not that long ago. If you ask for help, or look a little lost somebody ought to help you settle in.

You’re very lucky, a chaplaincy community can quickly become a second family almost, if that’s what you are after.

GO TO MASS. Our Lord is there waiting for you. Just listen for a while, then get to Confession and receive our Lord again.

Some thoughts:

  1. You’re still Catholic, you just fell away for a while

  2. To ease your way back in, I would suggest praying the rosary. I know it sounds cliche (it did to me too), but it’s easy and you can follow along on your phone. Go talk to the priest on campus. Better yet, set up an appointment with him; you’re probably right up his alley in that a lot of college students are fallen away from the faith. Say, “Father, I don’t know what I’m doing, but…”

  3. Have you received your other Sacraments? If so, go to Confession before receiving Communion. Reconciliation is just another word for Confession. This may sound daunting, but again, the priest at a college campus should be prepared to help you. You don’t have to rack your brain to think of every little tidbit of detail (confess in as much detail as you can, but if you don’t remember how many times you did A, don’t let that discourage you!). If you haven’t done your first Confession, the priest can help with that. By the way, have you been Confirmed?

  4. The college where I finished my degree had a Student Center (actually, so did the other college I went to!) Go sign up for some groups. They’ll have men’s groups, women’s groups, Bible studies, probably free meals, and we even had what we called Catholic U, where each week there was a topic about the faith of which the priest would answer our questions.

  5. When it comes to choosing which Bible to use, that’s a matter of preference. There are many study Bibles published with notes. I’ve seen Bibles for college students. Some folks suggested reading the Catechism, I wouldn’t start with that personally, but eventually it will fill you in on what the Church teaches.

You are fortunate that there’s a visible Catholic presence on your campus. Look for Newman Center(s), Catholic Student Centers (CSC"s), etc. These are there for your spiritual benefit.

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Actually, I was hoping someone would mention this. Could you give a short explanation of what it is? I’ve heard about it, but I’m not too sure as to what it is. Are they classes?

Thank you!

RCIA Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Basically the Catechism classes where the faith is taught either one-on-one or in a group setting. During the time there are special steps (rites) like welcoming the Catechumen/candidate, a special Mass with the bishop during Lent, receiving the Our Father prayer and Creed. The candidates receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before they make a profession of faith during the Easter vigil. Catechumens are baptised and then they and the Candidates are confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time.

Catechumens are those who are not baptised and candidates are those who are already baptised.

Many parishes let those who are already Catholic join the RCIA classes. This is common if they haven’t received all the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion) or have been away for years and need to freshen up their faith.

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