Thinking of Coming Back to Churh? ‘The Door is Open!'
It’s not too late for New Year resolutions, is it?
Maybe it’s the “Francis effect,” but more and more people are saying to me, “Father, I’m really thinking of coming back to the Church.”
Alleluia! That grace is an answer to prayer.
What they’re saying is that they are indeed Catholic, but that they’ve drifted, grown lax, or even left. And now, thank God, they sense a tug back.
All I can say is, “The door is open!”
Many of them—and then I know they’re serious—will ask how they can return. That’s an inquiry I love to hear!
Usually, I recommend a few simple steps. And I list them here because they’re not bad resolutions even for those who are already with us in the Faith.
The first would be prayer, the simpler, the better. So, to those who ask, “How do I come back?” I reply, “You really just did. Your sincere desire to come back to Our Lord and His Church is itself a prayer and an act of return.”
I recommend that every day, at morning and at night, we turn our thoughts to Jesus: When we get up in the morning, we simply whisper, “Jesus, thanks for the gift of life and of another day. Help me with your grace to make it through the day. May nothing I do hurt you or anybody else. I offer all to you as a gift, for all I have is a gift from you!”
At night, we simply say, “Jesus, thanks for all your grace today. Your mercy, please, if I have hurt you or any of your people. I entrust myself to you!”
The second step back is Sunday Mass. God is wise: He knows we need to give Him His day. Only 30 percent of our Catholics, they tell us, are faithful in Sunday Mass. Here’s our most urgent challenge. Get back to Sunday Mass! No excuses! Take my word for it: all your wonderful desire to “come back to the Church” will be about as effective as your resolve to drop 30 pounds unless you return to Sunday Mass. God knows what he’s doing! His Third Commandment is “Keep holy the Lord’s Day!” Listen to your Father!
Finally, make a good confession! Don’t be scared! Your desire to “get back to Church” is already a sincere expression of repentance, an acknowledgement that your friendship with Jesus in and through His Church is not what it should be. Any priest worth his salt pops champagne corks when someone calls and asks for the sacrament, or when someone comes into the confessional and says, “Father, it’s been awhile. Can you help me get back on the right track with a good confession?”
There you have it. Sure, there’s a lot more we can do. I’m thinking of increased service and charity, and some deeper study of our Catholic faith. That will come once you start with the three resolutions above.
Welcome home! A blessed New Year!