Whatever the reason you stopped practicing your Catholic faith in the past, you can be sure of a warm welcome should you decide to start again here at St. Mary Church. Many people return to the Church after a period of time, as they sense a spiritual emptiness in their lives which only Christ can fill, and they often find that not only have they changed, but the Church has changed also. Catholics have made special efforts since the Jubilee Year 2000 to learn from their mistakes and make it easier for people to see in them the love of Christ.

 

Perhaps the biggest obstacle many face in taking up their faith again is a feeling of guilt. Of course, if we have done something wrong, guilt is healthy provided it leads us to change our lives. Christ was known not for condemning people but for his kindness to sinners, and for unforgettable stories like the Prodigal Son returning to a lavish welcome. Jesus understands completely, even more than you do, why you left the Church and why you now would like to return. Despite all their failings, there are many Catholic priests and lay people who will show you that same understanding.

 

So what practical steps can you take? The most obvious is to go to Mass. Normally it is best to go to your parish church, but you are welcome to attend any church where you feel at home. We invite you to try our parish, St. Mary Church in Bordentown NJ.  Some parishes are obviously friendly and welcoming, while others will leave you very much to yourself if you prefer. The style of worship may also vary from one Mass to another, so try them all.  Sooner or later you will want to speak to a priest about your situation. Again, you are welcome to speak to any priest: Father Mike or Father Felix. The important thing is that you feel they understand and accept you. Our priests greet the people at the Church door after Sunday Mass, and this is a good time to introduce yourself briefly, but not perhaps to have a long conversation, as they may be distracted. Call them at 609 298-0261 during normal office hours and make an appointment to talk things over.

 

If you are not ready to speak to a priest, call the office and we will find an appropriate parishioner who may be able to answer some of your questions.  Check the parish website for some of the activities which will enable you to explore your Catholic faith, such as special Masses, scripture studies, Adult Faith Formation programs, etc.

 

One way or the other, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is the key step to taking up your faith again. Ours is on Saturday at 4 PM and also after the 5 PM Mass.  But you can call the parish office and make an appointment for your own Sacrament of Reconciliation, that way you can take your time and talk it all out.  Do not think of Confession as a list of sins but as an opportunity to tell Jesus Christ your story through the priest. Of course there will be particular sins you will want to mention, but they will make more sense in the context of your story. Do not be afraid if you have been away for a long time: priests are always very moved when someone begins, “Father, it is 20 years since my last Confession…” The sense of joy and healing that this sacrament gives is hard to describe, and it brings with it the great blessing that you can begin receiving communion again.

 

You may still have some questions about various aspects of Catholic faith and life. This is perfectly normal, since faith in the living God will always be a challenge to our human ways of thinking and acting. If you cannot find help locally in thinking these things out, check out Catholics come home at www.catholicscomehome.org.  Here you can find a large resource of sites, view some videos and maybe even find the answer to your question.

 

Whenever you decide to do it . . . 

 

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