To all fallen-away Catholics:
Please prayerfully consider returning to a firm practice of the faith. Maybe you’ve never really practiced it, or maybe you don’t truly know what it is. Well, it is your duty to learn it. And never in history has there been more knowledge resources available in an instant with zero effort. Go do the work.
People think this journey starts with a personal desire to “go and sin no more”; that you have to be ready to live like a saint before you take the first step in accepting Christ. That never happens. Rather, it starts like this: “There is this thing called Catholicism that my parents spent a lot of time teaching me. So I probably should do some research about it.” Or maybe you have joined some protestant community and you are starting to figure out they don’t have the truth over there. Whatever your situation, the journey starts with the search for Truth. That’s it. All you need is a serious desire to learn what is true.
You probably know most of the doctrines. Some you may disagree with. Others you agree with, but find hard to live your daily life in accord with them. If you are to have any hope of someday striving to live a holy life, it starts with understanding why the doctrines are what they are. The Church doesn’t just throw shit out there for the sake of being strict. Everything is tied together and it all makes sense but you have to do the research. Turn off Words With Friends for one hour and do some research.
Pick two pieces of doctrine you don’t agree with. Thoroughly research how the doctrine is grounded in Scripture and Tradition down through the ages. Formulate your counterargument. How’s that working out for you?
Once you start to discover the truth, it sets you free. If you allow it to. You see, upon learning the truth, you have two choices. Remember the Matrix? Remember the blue pill and the red pill? You either take the red pill and accept reality, or take the blue pill and prefer to live in fantasyland. Oh except in the movie of life, your choice determines where you spend eternity. Shit just got heavy.
However there is one major problem: The Church is really f****d up right now. Not as bad as it has been in a few other other centuries, but certainly this is one of the worst times in history. But how can this be, when She was founded by Christ and is guided by the Holy Spirit?
While Christ promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church, he never promised the Church would not have bad leadership. Everything good in the Church, like purity of doctrine, comes from the Holy Spirit. Everything bad in the Church comes from human weakness, and we’ve had plenty of bad bishops and priests in the past 50 years. So much so that the majority of parishes in the United States no longer are truly Catholic, meaning they don’t really believe what the Church teaches. You must learn to distinguish the Church itself, which is indefectible, from it’s members, (clergy or laity) whom are frequently bastards.
For these reasons, choosing a solid parish is essential to learning and living the faith. In many diocese this is very difficult. To be assured of orthodoxy, look for parishes that offer the Extraordinary Form – the old Latin Mass. I highly recommend getting to know the Extraordinary Form, it is the Mass the Church used for 1500 years, until 1970. A big reason for the problems in the Church in the past 40 years is the decline of liturgy. it really does matter. It helps to have a beautiful Church as well.
The first few times you attend the Latin Mass, don’t even try to follow along in the book. Just sit back and watch it all. Then gradually start to learn it.
But FIRSTLY, GO TO CONFESSION. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away or what you’ve done. The priest has heard it all before, trust me you have zero shock value.
You can’t receive the necessary graces to progress on this journey if you are in a state of mortal sin. You also must have a firm purpose of amendment. That means you can’t just confess and then go on committing your habitual sins. It doesn’t mean you’re never going to sin again; we all continue sinning but hopefully they become less serious sins. But it does mean having the desire to radically live your life in a manner that our broken culture thinks is crazy.
Don’t wait. Do the research. The joy and freedom you will experience has no earthly equal.