Lost and confused - who do I talk to?

My situation is like this: I’m one of those people who got baptized as a baby and then put through First Communion. Nobody in my family had ever gone to church (outside of other people’s weddings and funerals) or anything. I don’t remember anything from that First Communion, other than I went through it.

It hadn’t mattered to me for a long long time. But now in my thirties I’m finding myself being pulled towards the Church.

Thing is, I’m confused and… well, kinda scared! I don’t know how to go about going back to Church. I tried going to Mass once (not on a Sunday) and I felt lost and incredibly self-conscious through most of it. I thought I might try talking to people there afterwards, but as soon as Mass was over, I chickened out and just… went home. I have trouble talking to strangers in general, so that might have been it. (I am a very shy man.)

I’d appreciate any advice on what type of person to try to approach about my situation. I also have less trouble communicating in text form, so if anyone would be willing to talk to me online and answer questions or share experiences, that’d be pretty amazing too.

Some parishes have programs for returning Catholics. You might ask if your parish has such a thing… if not, talk with the pastor and see if there someone who could act as a sort of spiritual friend for you. Someone who could attend Mass with you, answer questions you have, and just help you get settled in.

Later on you may want to check into an adult confirmation program, but it sounds like to start with you need someone who could act like a guide or mentor.

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Talk to the priest (go to masstimes.org, then see what church you want to go to, then follow the link to the parish website, then follow links to contact the priest or someone who works there) and see to getting to RCIA classes.

Talk to your local priest. He will be MORE than happy to sit with you and go through everything. Call the church office and make an appt. and explain that you may need to talk to him for a while. Once you do this everything else will fall into place.

This is tough. I joined the Church in my 30s on my own. Some parishes are more friendly than others for starters. Hopefully you live in a city? If so, I would check out different parishes. And, yes, it is awkward, stressful, all that. Treat it like a job interview. Dress nicely, get there early, smile like you are trying to get a job, have pat answers in your head to any questions about returning to the faith. Introduce yourself wherever possible. Keep expectations low. You need to be clear in your head why you are there. Is it because God is calling you or you are trying to socialize, fit in? I realize both are completely acceptable. The Church is the community of believers. The sad thing is Churches often don’t take that definition to heart - they don’t reach out to strangers, especially many Catholic parishes.

Once I knew I was there for prayer, to connect with God, I was ok. Socialization may take time, patience. It will not necessarily be an easy road, or even have a happy ending. I would say just stick with it, focus on your faith, do spiritual reading, Eucharistic Adoration. In time you will be a more familiar sight at whichever parish you choose to frequent.

Use this time to learn about the faith, pray to God for help, strength. I hope you make progress - stick with it - we do carry a cross after all. You’re better off on that road than any other. If you are lucky you will connect with a few folks along the way - this will happen. God will help you, guide you through it.

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It helps to remember— in the pagan world, there was usually a priestly class, and the ordinary people didn’t usually partake in religion except for the occasional festival or things. But in Christianity, we’re the Church-- we have our ordained priests, which are immensely important, but we also have the concept of the priesthood of the laity where all Christians partake in the priesthood of Christ.

If there’s an RCIA class, you might join it. Even though it’s technically for those considering conversion, it’s also useful for those who were technically baptized Catholic, but not really raised Catholic, and are in need of learning catechism. It’s also nice to have a context to hang around people and get to know them— ie, a classroom situation that regularly meets in a certain time and a certain place with certain people— rather than trying to socialize after Mass-- which, in the absence of coffee and doughnuts, is often difficult, especially if you happen to bump into an introvert just when you’ve got your own courage worked up to talk to a stranger! :slight_smile:

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Excellent suggestion. I did meet people in RCIA, even though I did not have to do it as a baptized Catholic I did it for the social angle - but they all left when the class was over. It was so weird. The two I hung out with - poof, gone. Back to square one. But I remember that RCIA leader to this day. He was such a great human being. We chatted a lot. He may be why I joined the Church, stuck with it anyway - one person. Flannery O’Connor fan. We had the best conversations. Every week. We all need to remember this around newcomers. It is a good reminder. REACH OUT.

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Yes, a class would certainly help - I’m a lot more comfortable speaking to people in such a narrowly and clearly defined situation :slight_smile: Thanks, that’s a great tip!

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Whichever way you approach it, make sure you just start going to Mass every Sunday. (Or Saturday evening).

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Remember a lot of long term Catholics find parish socialising awkward too. Welcome back and I hope you find your feet.

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Check out this link for returning Catholics.
God Bless You.

http://landingsintl.org

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