Trying to return

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?

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Welcome to the Forum.
I’m so sorry you’ve had such a difficult time. You don’t need RCIA, I think you need a qualified spiritual father. Easier said than done perhaps. :slight_smile:

Have you considered the Eastern Catholic Churches? If you’re unfamiliar with us try listening to a few of the interviews with the monks from Holy Resurrection Romanian Catholic Monastery. As you experienced in the Orthodox Church, the Byzantine approach is quite different from that of the Latin Church. The Liturgy and indeed the Liturgical calendar as we live it are catechesis. And thanks be to God for the good Orthodox priest who did work with you and aid you along in your adult formation.

Right now in Great Lent is an especially rich time to participate in an Eastern parish if you have one “near” you. That might not be near you as a Latin parish would be. I travel an hour to get to Divine Litugy and am grateful it’s that close by.

If you don’t have an Eastern Catholic parish close enough to attend you still might have bi-ritual priests in your Diocese and one of them might be a better spiritual father than what you’ve come in contact with in your recent attempts to come back to the Church. Your Chancery/Diocese could hopefully help you find a bi-ritual priest.

Great Lent is a wonderful time to be making this quest, even though it’s being so difficult.

Hi! I feel that you are very sincere in your desire to return to the Eucharist and so I encourage to pursue your desire despite the unpleasant experience you’ve had with confession. If there are other priest there who could give you better advice then please seek them out. Perhaps God is testing your faith in Him so show that you are totally on His side. my prayers go with you. God bless!

Dear Hyoi,

I’m sorry for your experience. I have had poor communications with priests at times. And it seems that the priest really did not hear what you had to say. Hopefully your fellow Catholics here can help. Also, asking this at the Ask an Apologist forum is great or you can send a private message to Father Serpa directly. He is the Catholic Answers chaplain and is great at communication and guidance on all things priestly.

Here is my 2 cents. It sounds like you have been baptized and confirm and have never received communion in the Orthodox Churches nor left the Catholic Church for a protestant community. And you have never left to a non-Christian faith. So it sounds like you would fall into the MIA Catholic category. What I heard for MIA Catholics is to go to confession and then your back in business. However, you mentioned confession didn’t turn out well. Do you know the steps to confession? If not you can look it up here or ask about it. If you do, then why did the priest stop you? Also, you can get a lot of your questions answered here (such as about Fatima), just read the replies carefully because it is an open forum.

Lastly, I sent you a personal message regarding this thread so check it out when you can. By the way, if you are at a good teaching parish, RCIA can be really useful. A dedicated RCIA program teaches way more than other parishes (RCIA or CCD) and can answer questions.

hyoi, your experience with confession was clearly not your fault. For one reason or another, the priest was not willing to listen. I would try to collect my thoughts, put together your written outline if that helps, and try again with a different (and better) priest.

Maybe some reader on the forum can refer you to good priests in your area.

And yes, being drawn to Orthodoxy, you might try looking for Eastern Catholic parishes in your area as well.

Are you confirmed, or not? This parish may not do adult confirmation classes other than RCIA.

Sounds like there was probably some misunderstanding. It’s common in human communication. :slight_smile:

I do know the steps. I was having trouble with the form of my actual confession, because the chief of my sins has been more “I have lived in a state of” rather than “I have committed…” I hadn’t practiced how I intended to say the words, and the priest cut me short as I tried to gather my thoughts to phrase it more correctly.

Thanks to all for your kind replies on this forum. I don’t know yet where the journey will take me; for now, I’m simply going to pray about it all and about your suggestions and see what opens up.

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