Friday, December 14, 2012

How to Come Back to the Faith

In my travels online I came across a blog from a woman who is chronically ill, has not been practicing her faith, yet is interested in enrolling her son in CCD.  Her son is not all that interested. Because of her illness she has a hard time getting to Mass. I decided to comment about how she should be fostering her faith too. I thought I would share it with you. If you know someone who is just starting to come back to the faith this may be a post that you can share with them.
Hi, I found your blog by accident and thought I would comment. I noticed this line "I guess I am just going to have to drag Tyler to church, and soon." Please don't think of it as "dragging to church." Church is an outward sign of God's love, it is what Christ left behind to help us get the guidance and worship we need to love and get to Him. Sometimes it seems dull, but really it is sublime. The people in the church are not perfect and make mistakes, but God normally uses people as His hands and it leads to making both the person being helped, and the helper, more holy.

Now, in regards to your son: In normal circumstances, most children do not desire to go to church. Just like they don't want to do their math homework or clean their room, they don't want to sit in a pew for an hour. This is normal. It is our job to train them that there are some things that we have to do even though we may not understand why. Someday they will understand. For some people that takes longer than we think it will. Your son needs to learn there is a God that is madly in love with him and he needs to foster that relationship. Christianity (and Catholicism in particular) is all about fostering that love relationship. Many times we Christians don't come across the right way, but that is truly what it is all about. Remember "God is Love" and He wants to shower us with His love and blessings. Taking your kid to church is guiding him in the right direction, not "Forcing it on him." It is bringing him in contact with the Lord, so He can bestow His blessings.

As a Christian, and Catholic to boot, we are not just called to love, but called to worship the Lord. Actually we are not just called, but commanded to do this: "Keeping the Lord's Day Holy." God gives us tons of hours a week, we can give Him back one hour of worship in Thanksgiving, which is what "Eucharist" means.

Let's start with you and YOUR spiritual life. The first thing you need to work on is your own relationship with God. I know, you only want to get your kid in CCD, why should you work on your spiritual life? Because you need to. God is calling you. He can be sneaky and you wanting your kid to go to Church is probably a call for you too.

I was away from the Church for years because it wasn't cool to go to Church. Then we had our son and I realized that I should be a good mom and get him baptized and raise him with God. It was also my way of answering the small voice inside me that was calling me to come back, but I had been too worried of people's opinions of me to come back before. I started taking my baby to church and started building on my own relationship with God. This is not a onetime "Are You Saved?" kind of deal that the Protestants like to push. This is a lifelong relationship, similar to a marriage. There are days when it feels great and others it feels like a burden, but you work on it and over time it grows. God is the perfect one and we are the ones that fall - over and over - but God picks us up, and if we trust in Him he will help us.

The first thing you need to do is start praying. You can use formal prayers if you wish (Our Father, Hail Mary, there are lots and lots of printed prayers around) but better are the prayers from your heart. Talk to God like you talk to a friend - because that is what He is. Tell him your complaints, your frustrations, your problems understanding Him and your relationship with Him. Ask Him for help. Ask Him to show you what to do. Do this in the line at the supermarket, driving around town, when you are cooking dinner, etc. It does not have to be formal.

Next, try to get to Confession. This is a starting thing - get rid of all the baggage you have collected probably most of your adult life and start fresh. Sin weighs us down and makes it harder to move on. Most Confessions happen on Saturday afternoon, but for you, especially since you have not been for probably years and years, call and make an appointment with the priest and go see him. Ask for an hour appointment if possible. If for some reason you get a difficult receptionist (Church office ladies are notorious for being difficult for some reason) or you are uncomfortable in some way, then call another parish. Then you can not only go to Confession without the constraints of time, but you can discuss with the priest your spiritual life in general and how you want to bring your son up in the faith. Here is a Guide to Confession.

After you go to Confession then, IF you can, start going to Mass. You don't have to dress up in makeup and heels (really I would be shocked if I saw someone really dressed up to go to Mass). Dress as decently (aka, it's best to be clean) as you can and take it slow. Don't put strong pressure on yourself and wind up collapsing in the aisle, ok? Perhaps a weekday Mass or an evening "healing Mass" would work for you better. Check out websites of churches in your area for times. MassTimes.org is good too. If you can't swing that, then call the church and ask for Communion to be brought to you. This happens all the time for chronically ill people. A person from the parish comes and brings Communion to you.

If you can't leave your house, then don't hesitate - please call the parish and ask for the priest to come see you. Tell them you want Confession and the Eucharist. If for some reason the priest can't come out, call another parish. Really, priests visit people all the time.

The next thing to do is buy a Bible. Get one you will read, preferably Catholic so it has all the books of the Bible. I really like the New Catholic Answer Bible because it is inexpensive and has a LOT of good information in it. Start in the Gospels (that is Matthew, Mark, Luke or John in the New Testament). Mark is good to start with because it is short and riveting. Read just a little every day and maybe take a couple of minutes to think about what you read and talk to God about it. Make it pleasurable: get comfortable, light a candle, be in a quiet place. But, no pressure, you can read it anywhere.

You may also consider praying the Rosary. Any parish and serious Catholic has probably tons of Rosaries floating around if you don’t own one. You can get one at many places. Here is How to Pray the Rosary if you don’t remember: Ask Our Lady to pray for you. You don’t have to pray the whole thing at once; you can pray a decade at a time if you want.

These are all starting things, baby steps. When you talk to the priest then start asking about help. Help to get your child to CCD and church. Perhaps a mother's group would be a good starting point. Perhaps he could car-pool with a family. Or maybe call the Director of Religious Education and explain the situation and what would be best to do. ASK, don't be worried about putting people out. People WANT to help others, but many times don't know how.

Take it how it best feels for you and foster your relationship with the Lord, and at the same time talk to your son and tell him how important it is for all of you to welcome God into your life. Good books were important in my coming back to the faith. Surprised by Truth is a great book you may like. Catholicism for Dummies is another. I just finished reading a book called Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Women that you might like. It is easy to read and one of the authors is chronically ill and talks about how that affects her relationship with God. And you might be interested in my blog, LiveCatholic,net that has lots of resources for Catholics. I don’t get the chance to write very often, but you may find the info there helpful. In fact, I may just post this comment on my blog, so people actually know I’m alive!

Sorry, I didn’t set out to start writing a book, but I hope you will find this helpful and give you ideas on what to do. I’ll be praying for you and you can contact me through my blog if you need help. God Bless!
So, do you have any ideas on welcoming people back into the Church?  What helped you if you are a revert or convert? Do you have any advice for a chronically ill person who wants to come back, or wants to introduce the faith to their children?

1 comment:

Gail Coniglio said...

Marcy,
You really hit it on the target here and have given her a comprehensive spiritual plan - this is good advice for us all! Thanks for sharing. May God bless you in your work in the New Evangelization!