How to come back


Cradle Catholic. Not been to confession or taken communion for more than two years. Trying to fulfill Sunday obligation, more or less successfully. How can I return to a life with the sacraments? Living in an “irregular” situation without the strength to change something, so I didn’t receive absolution last two times I tried going to confession. Feel like nothing is going to ever change. Anyone in a similar scenario, with experience how to come back?


Call the parish office and meet with the Priest. That is the only real step you can take. He will advise you on how to make things right. If he is being ornery and not offering you any steps to take, move on to another priest or contact the dioceses.


Dunno. Talk to your priest is the one-fits-all reply, but I know that I need to change something. What is he supposed to do? I brought myself into a situation where there is no real way out. I would love to go to communion, each Sunday I get so close to HIM but not quite. I know I am in no shape objectively to receive, but in this special case, probably I still could…
Anyway is it that bad to not receive for a longer time? I know the church recommends at least once a year, Easter if possible. But I heard there were desert saints that only received a few times in their lives.


The action of “spiritual communion” is very powerful and I think many people get more grace(s) from that than others do who actually are going to communion. So make an act of spiritual communion for starters.

What is it?

It is a prayer and a desire. Just what it says, receiving communion spiritually…

“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire you with all my heart. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already in my heart and unite myself to you completely. Please do not let me ever be separated from you.”

Here is a good little page from the Diocese of Little Rock on Spiritual Communion:


I think Jamal has a good idea–spiritual communion.

I do think talking to a priest is the way to go. It might sound like a trite push off but if you came her saying “I accidentally amputated my arm, how do I live with it” it would be rather irresponsible to not ask if you’ve sought the help of an orthopedic doctor.

A professional is going to have better ideas how to help. Right now there are only 2 priests, one deacon and one sister on this forum. There is also another unverified sister and an unverified cannon lawyer floating around.

Perhaps it’s true that a priest will not be able to “solve” your issue…but that dosn’t mean that he can’t offer hope and consolation and be a true friend and ally. Having someone “on your side” might mean a world of difference in your frustration and help you keep a healthier perspective.


2 years is nothing. I didn’t go to Confession for 18 years and attended Mass sporadically or “not at all” during that time.

The real concern here is you’re in an “irregular” living situation, which I’m guessing means the Church wold consider it sinful. I spent about 10 of the 18 years I was “away” in an “irregular” situation. Fortunately by the time I decided to come back, I had already gotten rid of the “irregular” situation about 5 or 6 years prior to my return.

If this situation is going to make it hard for you to come back to the Church, you will need to make a possibly tough choice or figure put how to make things “regular” before you can even get out of the starting gate. This is where talking to a priest comes in if you can’t just do what needs to be done on your own.


Tough choice is absolutely not an option due to two little ones. No way. Unfortunately, making things regular is also not possible. Along the lines Jamal mentioned, I went to Eucharistic Adoration a few times, but stopped again. Probably I should stop worrying, if you could do 18 years, I can probably do a few more, hoping time can help me. Only, the situation keeps nagging at me. I guess this sounds very silly, but I am a bit afraid to approach a priest and steal his time when it is all my fault.


I certainly didn’t mean to encourage you to stay away longer. I had no kids involved in my own messes.
I am sure the priest has heard it all, especially if you pick one with a few years’ experience. You don’t seem like you’re making excuses, so I doubt there would be blame and finger-pointing. You obviously want to come back. Do all you can, even if you can’t receive Communion right now.

God bless


Everyone sins. Everyone is at fault.

You are expressing hopelessness about the situation when you don’t actually know what a priest will say. You are making assumptions. You are not “stealing” his time. He may very well know more than you. or have ideas of ways to support you that you have not considered.

Priests deal with all sorts of things. They deal with cheaters, they deal with liars, they deal with abusers and the abused. If they don’t know how to help, they will send you to someone who can.

I’m going to say something that sounds bad…when it comes to whatever is going on you are not special. Your situation is not special. Priests deal with “irregular” situations day in and day out. You are special to God and a unique soul in the Church. Your children deserve sacraments. You must act upon your baptismal promise, even if it means a long slog through hard territory.


Why talk to a priest?

Because he will assure you of specifics – what you already know, what you don’t know, and what you don’t know you don’t know.

Because he will pray with you and for you.

Because he will welcome you to the community and encourage you to be a part of it, regardless of your state in life.

Because doing so will strengthen your heart and be an encouragement to you.

God bless you! I’ll pray for you.


With two little ones and a situation you can’t change, you have all the more reason to talk to a priest. Maybe, as @Tis_Bearself said, “pick one with a few years’ experience.” The priest could help you figure out how to sort things out for the good of your family and yourself.

Maybe you’ve heard of Amoris Laetitia, a recent Church teaching about families. I haven’t read it myself, not yet, but I’ve read that it discusses what you call “irregular” situations where children are involved. A priest who is familiar with it could be a great help to you.

Do not be concerned that Amoris Laetitia has been criticized by some well-meaning Catholics who fear that it threatens to change Church doctrine. It is really meant to help families and parents to stay in the Church, or return to the Church, and to be as good and holy as they can be in their circumstances.

Don’t try to read it and apply it by yourself. You really need guidance on this. See the priest!

Let us pray: May the Holy Spirit continue to assist and guide you always toward faith, hope, and love.


Thanks everyone for your kind answers!
@RandomAlias: I know about AL and the fact that a footnote may apply to a situation like mine. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion and disagreement right now, even among bishops. Honestly, I do not feel that asking a “normal” parish priest about this is called for, I would rather not mention it.
@Xanthippe_Voorhees: Actually, I talked to 2 different priests about this already, I even went to a diocesan counsellor. But the whole situation is a bit involved. It is true that we never discussed actual strategies how to deal with this in the long run - probably I did not state clearly enough that I needed such a plan.
I am hesitant to reiterate this again, it is quite emotionally challenging for me. Plainly speaking, I am fed up with it.
Sure, I know that lamenting on an online board will also not help at all. Recently, I have thought more about packing it in.
Going to mass and trying to keep at least some of the church commandments does not seem to bring me any peace, quite to the contrary.


I hope this does not mean suicide? Please, if you feel this way, call a hotline, get some help, talk to someone. You can’t do that if little ones are involved.

I will pray for you. God is merciful and understanding and Jesus loves you and wants you back.


No, no! :open_mouth: This is a misunderstanding. I was never thinking of suicide or similar, I never had and do not have any mental issues. With “packing it in” I meant stopping to be a practicing Catholic or thinking about how to pass on the faith to the children. Trying to keep the Catholic church in my life caused all kind of drama, arguments and infighting and honestly, I keep asking myself whether it is really worth it. At some point, you just say to yourself: Well, I have tried it, but it is leading nowhere, but just to ever more trouble. I mean the majority of people out there do not really care anymore that much about the faith and seem to be much happier. So why should I care? Why should I pray with the children or teach them about the faith or anything if I am such a poor example? Just opt out of Catholicism and be done with it.
Only I feel it will not be that easy or satisfying in the long run.


Because what else is there?

In the long run, those other people who seem to have such easy lives from your perspective truly will end up with blah. You have your faith, you have something worth fighting for. What exactly does Jesus mean to you? You need to begin reaching out spiritually and asking Him for help. Counting your blessings and trusting in Him. Jesus said He did not come to bring peace and nice things to people, but a sword! The Jewish people were waiting thousands of years for a fancy king to save them from other countries and bring peace to their own. And this seems to be what you want. Jesus is not the easy way. Do you want truth? You need to keep walking towards it, no matter what the battle. Eventually, you will be greatful. We are talking eternity, here. Now is the time to start developing spiritual eyes, not practical eyes. Begin to listen every night to Jesus’ voice in silence. Rest in His presence. You don’t know Him. He LOVES you, and is near you always.

We are all warriors, we all have different battles towards sanctity and love. What is love? What is the cross? You must meditate on the cross!


A very wise priest told me that when faced with two options always take the hardest one. I have never found that advice to be wrong. hard yes but not wrong. I was away from the church too for a long long time, I’m back now and out of my dodgy situation, no kids involved not through lack of trying, but wasn’t to be. I’m just saying don’t give up hope, it is not supposed to be easy. When in life is anything worthwhile ever easy? In fact aren’t we suspicious if things are easy. Hang in there, the Teacher is always quiet during the test . Keep on going to mass even if you can’t have the sacrament and trust in God. He called you there. Know that he has a plan for you and all you have to do is follow and be patient. I know that is hard believe me. In the meantime, I suggest reading some of the saints books and the scriptures and if you can, yes go back to adoration. An important thing to do is pray, whenever you can whether you want to or not and informally or formally, even just tiny little invocations like ‘Stay with us Lord’ ‘Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine! My Jesus, mercy’ and a favourite of mine when things are hard ‘All for thee, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus’ . These tiny short prayers keep us in mind of God so we can draw closer to him. Keep at it. I too will pray for you.


I think in this position it could be even more positive for your children to see one parent makes a big change in belief and lifestyle without leaving them apart. It could be a source of trust for them, something very stable and empowering in an instable world. It may encourage them to choose the right option for them one day, too.


Remain Catholic. Let your husband, wife, significant other be the religion of his or her own choice but pray that he or she will come to the Catholic faith. As for the children, if they are old enough, let them choose which church they wish to attend. (I was raised in both Catholic and Protestant churches, one parent of each faith). It might help ease the tensions and will let your children experience both sides.

I also advise speaking with a priest. He can come to you if necessary. And seeing the situation for himself, might be better able to advise than a priest who has “seen it all” but has not seen your situation up close. He can also hear your confession, give absolution and the Eucharist.

Don’t despair. And don’t give up hope. God is with you. He will give you the strength you need to better your situation for yourself and your children. There are resources that can help. Your priest would be able to advise you there too. You aren’t “stealing his time.” That’s what he’s there for. To help you and to help you learn to help yourself.

God Bless you.


You are right, the reply, “talk to a priest” may seem oversimplified. It’s not that easy finding this “priest”. I am familiar with one parish priest in my former diocese who found himself in a parish with so many families in irregular situations he started special adult re-education classes. I met many restored Catholics there. For them, they were never given the opportunity to set things right before, only demoralized and sent away hopeless.

Finding a right priest is crucial. Sadly, that is rare.


Most of the people I meet are not that happy. I’m not sure if the faith, or a faith, would fix it for all of them but they are definitely looking for something. A lot of them pick something like a hobby or a job or a cause and essentially make a religion out of it.

It doesn’t hurt to teach the kids about a loving and forgiving Jesus, they may need Him someday and better to have heard it from a parent than from someone on the street who might be the next Jim Jones or David Koresh psychopath.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit