I’ve been away from the Church for a long time and have hit a roadblock trying to return. As I recall, I left after coming into contact with a lot of doctrine really fast and got frustrated trying to get help integrating what seemed like contradictory teaching (things like the Fatima apparitions – I’d ask, “Does it really not contradict Catholic teaching that the Mother of God asked little children to find ways to suffer?” and the person I was asking would call me crazy and throw me out of their office.) I started feeling like a Romanian orphan, warehoused in a crib somewhere and ended up leaving in actual frustration because it seemed so hard to get any guidance about why I should stay, or more accurately how I could stay. Anyway, I lost my faith.
My time away has included a sojourn in the Orthodox Church, as a guest, not as a communicant. What I liked in Orthodoxy, besides the splendor of the liturgy, was in the teaching, the structure of the Catholic Church was preserved, but they presented it upside down, laying the stress on God reaching down to man, to create and to heal. (Also, the priest there took the time to answer my questions and never once called me names.) However, my heart never felt at home there. I am now trying to come home. After many months of prayerful consideration, I contacted the church (a new parish in a new town) at Christmastime to ask for some help preparing for my first confession since leaving, so I could return to the Eucharist. After playing phone tag with the director of religious ed at my parish for a while, I thought maybe I was making this something it didn’t need to be. I know my sins and I believe Christ is calling me back to the Eucharist. I went to confession and explained that it had been a while. I had my list with me, but got confused in starting, and the priest told me I wasn’t prepared and I should make an appointment to meet with him. So far, okay. I made the appointment, which happened today. I had thought I might get reprimanded for not having been better prepared, but when I got there, this priest asked me for my story, and I started telling it, but he shut me down pretty quickly. He kept saying, “In order to enter the Church, you need to …” and I’d say, “I’m trying to return to the Church.” He told me I ought to go through RCIA. (I have been through confirmation classes, back when I was trying to get my questions answered. At that time, I knew more than the teacher was planning to present at that level and my precense in the class worked out to be a frustration to everyone concerned – it wasn’t the right venue for the kinds of questions I had; even though I wouldn’t be asking the same questions now, I still already know the curriculum.) Then he said that because I had been frustrated enough to leave, I would just get frustrated again, then he went on and on about how he figures I’m probably feeling like the Catholic Church isn’t as welcoming as protestant churches (I have never been protestant, and I’m Catholic enough to feel uncomfortable when people are “too” welcoming at Mass), but that I need to understand how important the Eucharist is compared to being social at church. I never even hinted anything like that to him because it really doesn’t worry me. I just wanted to return to the Eucharist. I can understand if I’d been reprimanded for treating the sacrament of confession as less a meeting with Christ than the sacrament of the Eucharist, but as it turns out, that hadn’t even crossed his mind. Christ was nowhere in today’s meeting. I really feel like the priest wasn’t even interested in finding out where I was, but had already decided the worst against me. I could feel myself turning back into that Romanian orphan. Does anyone have any idea why this happened? Did I do something wrong in my confession? Is there a cloud that hangs over me whenever I try to talk with Catholic clergy? Or do I just have really bad luck? Or is Christ telling me that this isn’t my home and I should reconsider Constantinople?