Returning convert asking for some advice?


#1

I'm an adult convert who fell away from the church and is now coming back. I was received into the church on 27 November 2005. I'm 33 years old and I'm a 4th year theology student, majoring in church history.

I was not put through the RCIA classes as I was/am studying a theology degree and my then parish priest felt I knew enough. No sponsor either. Turns out I didn't know enough. I felt isolated, got swamped with doubt and I've been away now for 3 years.

Now I'm coming back and I'd like some advice from the people here on what you believe to be the best ways to build both my faith and my understanding of the doctrine of the faith?

Thanks,
Belinda


#2

Congratulations Belinda, welcome back home!
I am not an expert,but I would advise you to go to confession, then go to Mass, then get yourself a good, holy priest that you are comfortable talking to, and talk. I would further recommend that you establish a daily prayertime of some sort. You are in a very hazardous profession amd I would advise you to pray always before engageing in it.
Sacraments and prayer these are keys to stability and assurance,
May God bless you richly in your pursuit of Divine Wisdom.
Peace
Tom


#3

Not knowing where your doubts lie, it is hard to give an answer. If it simply about things Catholic, my suggestion would be to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You should have no problem with it, considering your major. If it is a different issue, PM me and I will see what I can help you with, or consult with a Forum Apologist.


#4

[quote="Mad_Theologian, post:1, topic:181870"]
I'm an adult convert who fell away from the church and is now coming back. I was received into the church on 27 November 2005. I'm 33 years old and I'm a 4th year theology student, majoring in church history.

I was not put through the RCIA classes as I was/am studying a theology degree and my then parish priest felt I knew enough. No sponsor either. Turns out I didn't know enough. I felt isolated, got swamped with doubt and I've been away now for 3 years.

Now I'm coming back and I'd like some advice from the people here on what you believe to be the best ways to build both my faith and my understanding of the doctrine of the faith?

Thanks,
Belinda

[/quote]

Find yourself a Spiritual Director or a Spiritual Mentor.also Sounds like you didn't have a lot of contact with others in RCIA so why don't you take some of the RCIA classes?Find a good program and contact the director of your local RCIA and ask them if you can sit in.You'll meet others there who are questioning and struggling. Good Luck and God Bless


#5

return to confession, communion and Mass, and offer to volunteer as a sponsor for adults in RCIA or confirmation classes. That way you can participate both in their catechetical classes, and also in the scripture based sessions. you will be surprised and heartened at how much your knowledge of the Faith grows when you are walking with someone else, and when you are called upon to support the new faith of another person. Welcome Home! “Knowing enough” is not the key to reception of the sacraments, loving enough and wanting it enough are the prerquisites.


#6

If it simply about things Catholic, my suggestion would be to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that the CCC appears to ramble so that you have got to do a lot of reading to get the point of something. I think that the Church recognized this and around 2005 came out with something called, more or less, The Compendium of the Catechism. I haven’t read it, but I would imagine that it gets to the point quicker.

The priest did you no favor by having you skip RCIA. I work as part of an RCIA team. Coming into the Church is more than learning Church teaching. It is also becoming a member of a faith community. By going through RCIA you meet other potential converts and parish members. You will also learn from questions posed by others in the process.
I have a few suggestions:

  1. If your parish has an ongoing RCIA program explain your situation to your pastor and ask if you can sit in. We have had this in our program.
  2. I recommend a book, Choosing to be Catholic by William O’Malley, S.J. The sub title is For the First Time, or Once Again. It’s published by Ave Maria Press, but I bought mine at Barnes and Noble.

#7

Read, read, read, our faith is so rich you could read the rest of your life and still not know everything…Bishop Sheen is a good place to begin imho


#8

Community is so important, and perhaps that's something you haven't established yet. Explore what's available at your church and join something. We have so many things available in our parish, and we're a fairly small parish (500 families). We have Bible Study, Catholic Book Club, Charismatic Prayer Group, Adoration, Adult Enrichment on Sundays (taught by the priest), St. Vincent de Paul Society (helping the poor), Altar Society (cleaning linens, making the church pretty, etc.), Rosary group (meets weekly at a home to pray), women's prayer group, hospitality (making cookies for after Mass), lectors and cantors...

I'm sure there is something that would appeal to you, even a little bit. Get involved and start meeting people. Look for someone who's faith you admire and get to know that person. If nothing appeals to you in your parish, start something. That's how many of the activities and groups began in our parish.

Welcome back!


#9

I think the thing that got to me the most was being told that I wasn't a good Catholic because I wasn't at Mass all that much.

Mind you, despite explaining things, the priest didn't take things seriously....

sigh

Quick explanation...

On top of theology studies, I am also my mum's solo carer. She is quite ill with both a physical problem, a brain injury and mental health issues. In 2009 she had 6 strokes, small ones. So there have been many times where she has been simply not stable enough to leave to go to Mass. And yes there have been times where I am simply too tired due to making 3 night checks on her to then turn around and get up at 5:15 am to be ready to leave at 6:15 am to walk the 30 mins to the church to be there for 7am Mass.

Yes, there are other Mass times but they conflict with her care times. Yes, it was suggested that they come here but taking into account how uncomfortable that would make her [her arthritis is the deforming kind and she is very sensitive due to staring people and no she doesn't go out much any more] and her low opinion of the faith [no she isn't Catholic see below] and after talking it over with her doctor that was deemed not in her interest to have parish members to our home.

Why is my mum's opinion so low...well, I asked for a lift to Mass and never got a response. Mind you by car I am no more than 5 mins away...on foot its 30 mins up a steep hill. Having had an ankle reconstructed and 2 other operations in late 2008 to mid 2009 a lift would have been nice. Some indirect help would have nice like a lift to Mass while I was crutches. Its not like the fact I was having the op wasn't known. A member of the prayer group sure knew but didn't say a word to anyone that counted.

Also the last time I tried to come back it took 7 weeks to get a confession appointment....2 weeks no response, appointment made and then forgotten by assist parish priest, 2 more weeks reminder call made, then another week till I finally got an appointment with the senior priest who then said I wasn't a good catholic....because I care for my mum...and therefore I am not there every Sunday.

I asked to have a Koine Greek exam for my degree supervised by the parish priest but due to illness I withdrew from the subject and sent the priest a letter explaining that I was ill and wouldn't be sitting the exam and never got a response. All that has left my mum with a bad opinion of the church due to the actions of some of the people. So in order not to make her opinion lower I keep a lid on a lot of my personal practices.

Respite care is very expensive and its something I am saving for as I'd like to make a retreat with the religious order I feel that I am called to, once my caring duties are complete. [Tyburn nuns, who have stood by me since I joined the faith and even though they didn't totally know that I fell away, I suspect Rev Mother knew how deep I was struggling. They rock hugely.]

Spiritual direction....starting in early Feb. I found a great religious sister do to that.

I recite Vigils, lauds, vespers and compline most days through a Benedictine LOTH book.

Confessor...still looking.

Mass, no I haven't been yet.

And books on the faith...well I went to the local Catholic bookshop yesterday and admitted to them, that I am kinda lapsed and asked for what they felt would be helpful and came home with some titles.

So yes, I am trying to do, what I can under somewhat different circumstances.


#10

I would suggest watching EWTN or listening to Relevant radio or Ave Maria radio...just surround yourself with church teaching and listen to apologists...It will sink in bit by bit

You can watch mass on TV if you aren't able to attend


#11

Dear Mad Theologian,

I’m not a priest, but I doubt you were sinning for taking care of your mother. Maybe your priest didn’t fully understand your situation when he said that. We are allowed to not attend Mass when we ourselves are sick, so if we have responsibilities to care for others who are sick, I’m sure that would also be considered all right. I could ask my priest but I’m 99% sure he’d agree.

From your post, you sound tired. It sounds like you’ve been going through a hard time. It might help for you to try to find some quiet time by yourself to rest, a time of quiet prayer with just you and God, if it’s possible to fit that in anywhere.

God bless you and your mother.

Lief


#12

God bless you for taking care of your mother!

Obviously you have had a lot of bad experiences with people in the Church. I wonder sometimes why so many Catholics don’t try a little harder (or even at all) to be friendly to new people. :shrug: Some of them are kind, however. There are all sorts. But I recommend reading the writings of some saints, like Teresa of Avila (her autobiography) or St. Faustina, or any number of others, who were treated in horrible ways by fellow Catholics - including nuns and priests. The spirit and faith and love of God and neighbor with which they charged onward through all the hurt and abuse truly astounds me; I find that it helps me to remember that I am not entering the Church because it is full of nice and holy people, but because Jesus Christ is there.

Another reason to read saints like Teresa and Faustina and many others, is that while there is theology even in their autobiographical writings, there is also a deep and lived love of God, which comes through. I’m a philosophy major and I know one can get lost in “headiness” - extensive knowledge is not a substitute for living the faith from the heart.


#13

My catechesis was a little lack luster growing up, and I learned most of what I know from EWTN, reading the Catechism, and other independent readings, and listening to Fr. Ripperger on sensustraditionis.org. Also when I was a little older I learned from my father which was helpful, but mainly through those resources. Also by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, it is usually a learning experience. You can google the scriptural rosary for some direction with that. Good luck and God bless.


#14

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