To think, we are already two years into the coronavirus pandemic. Life Pre-Covid (PC) seems like a far off dream, a memory that we long to relive over and over once again. Thankfully, with the introduction of vaccines and boosters, we’re able to safely step outside and be around others while continuing to uphold cautionary measures.
As restrictions come and go, doors to offices, malls, and even churches have reopened. Despite falling in faith these past two years, I’ve also begun to make the conscious effort to rediscover that same faith I’ve lost. It’s not the same as before, as our faith journey is never linear, but it’s changed and evolved with the times.
Now, as we prepare to enter the Lenten season, you might be thinking about heading back to church. I’d certainly recommend it, as it’s probably one of the best times to return—going into the proverbial desert and all.
But you might be feeling a bit rusty or ashamed, so I’m here with some tips and words of advice; from one returning Catholic to another.
We’ll start off biblical. In many instances of the Bible, we are told to “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid”. Apparently, we are told some version of this phrase at least 365 times. That’s one verse for every day of the year!
So how does this apply to the life of a returning Catholic?
After being away from the church for so long, we can get caught up in fear over “what if” scenarios. We become afraid of how people will look at us, the possible questions from familiar faces, or even the fear of forgetting how to recite the Our Father.
But God doesn’t care about any of that. What matters is that you’re actively seeking out a relationship with Him. You chose to take time out of your day to reestablish a connection of faith. You should definitely take pride in that.
So fear not, choose to be courageous this Lent, and head back into the pews of the church.
I’ve said this about writing, I’ve said this about life, and I’ll say it again about faith: even the smallest step is still a step forward.
This Lent, as you ease your way back into the routine of being a practicing Catholic once again, start small. This could just include returning to Sunday Mass and fasting on Fridays. That very well might be your sole Lenten promise as you are 1) sacrificing time for God and 2) making a conscious effort to rebuild your faith.
Other small things you could do are: saying grace before every meal, praying the rosary once a week, telling God thank you throughout your day. No matter how small, all these different practices add up and help you get back on the path to holiness.
Read all about it!
In this day and age we’re lucky that information is all around us. That includes the practices of the church.
During the pandemic, you might have forgotten certain prayers or why various actions are important to the Catholic faith—and that’s okay. Take no shame in what you’ve forgotten, for you can always relearn and reapply those practices to your life once more.
This Lent, take some time to read up on Catholicism. Reacquaint yourself with the various traditions and teachings of the church to clear up any questions you might have. To go further, you might want to read ahead and reflect on the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday, just so you can understand it a little bit more when it’s proclaimed.
You know what they say, knowledge is power, and there’s definitely some Holy Spirit power shown by the church.
Find an accountability partner
Looking back on my faith journey so far, through all the ups and downs, it has been filled with the help and support of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Other than going back to the Mass and receiving Christ through the Eucharist, the community I found through the church is one of the things that helps me to come back, time and time again.
So, as you’re making your return back to the Catholic faith this Lent, find someone you can walk with. Pray with this person, ask them for advice, break bread (spiritually and physically) with them. Having someone to lean on as you travel back to the altar and through this Lenten desert is important.
The camaraderie, support, and spirituality shared with your accountability partner can serve as a reminder of the warmth of Christ and why you strive to be active in your faith once more.
Now, from one returning Catholic to another, I will say this: it will be hard. We’ll stumble and fall, and want to go back to our lazy Sundays in bed. And perhaps there are other factors that prevent us from being fully present at the church.
But I believe that even with the smallest effort, as long as heaven is in sight and we keep God in our hearts, we’ll find a way back into His arms again.
Wishing you a fruitful and life-changing Lent.