From a reader:
I have been reading and enjoying your blog over the past year while by God’s grace He has restored me to the Church. (Most of my adult life I spent in the wilderness until He worked a conversion in my heart in 2002 and I landed in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). There I served in lay ministry and attend seminary classes in theology until the need for a more developed interior life led me to pray the Chaplet of St. Michael. That’s when all the trouble began…. :)
All this is to say that this prodigal daughter has come home to the Church with a distinctly conservative hermeneutic. There are many beautiful parishes and devoted clergy in my area and I pray for those who pour themselves out in vocation for God.
But I have been surprised to encounter "centering" prayers, the not so subtle blurring of women’s roles in liturgy and leadership, some forms of higher criticism that the LCMS itself purged in the 1970′s, syncretism, the rewriting of the Hours to use gender inclusive pronouns and… if it could be worse…. the dulcet sounds of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and James Taylor lyrics emanating from ordained clergy at the lectern.
Meanwhile me and all my books by Pope Benedict and 4 volume Liturgy of the Hours are in hiding, not sure what to make of all this.
In the LCMS, pastors would urge the faithful to "flee to orthodoxy" under such circumstances. I want to spend the rest of my life loving God as best a sinner can, and I recognize that I have much to (re)learn and judgmentalism is a sin. But is a layman, respecting authority, able to flee to orthodoxy in the Church, and how does one find it?
Yours is a story many converts and reverts can share, as well as many who have never fallen away from the Church but have rather suffered these long decades of the post-Conciliar silly season… now happily coming to a close.
So much depends on where you live, that I cannot give any precise answer. But I must say that as a revert you need a stable period to get used to yourself as being Catholic.
Find yourself the best possible parish and then hunker down and do your best there.
It seems to me that you can "flee to orthodoxy" in some simple steps.
First, say your prayers. I don’t mean that to be flippant. Say your daily prayers regularly. When you rise and when you retire. When you eat and when you have finished. The Angelus at noon and 6 pm. Say your Rosary.
Examine your conscience in the evening before sleep.
Read some Scripture for a few minutes (if your volumes of the LOTH are still in hiding).
Use sacramentals, such as Holy Water in your home.
Use the Sacrament of Penance, regularly.
Be conscious of what you can do to gain indulgences for the poor souls even as you ask the saints to intercede for you.
We are all connected. We are in this together. They are on your side.
At Holy Mass put all your cares and aspirations, your sacrifices and petitions and thanks on the altar with the host and into the chalice with the wine. Seek that encounter with mystery even when it is being obscured.
Just be a Catholic for a while. Settle in.
When you see an abuse or catch a whiff of some something not right, don’t fret. Remember that Satan hates the Church and priests with a savagery we humans cannot fathom. Priests and those close to them in ministry will be the Enemy’s most urgent target. It must not surprise us when we see things that are wrong or weird in the Church or during Mass, sad as that is.
Be sober and alert about these things and do not allow them to be a drag on your spirit, for Old Scratch will use them if possible to erode your faith.
Also, when you consider a "flight to orthodoxy" consider that you have already arrived. Holy Catholic Church is the spotless bride of Christ. Her members are flawed, but she without error and hell’s minions can never prevail.
Finally, I don’t know whether or not you have ever received the sacrament of Confirmation, but this is an important tool of your spiritual life. Confirmation strengthens the Christian in the trials of his or her life. We can call upon the grace of that great sacrament in time of testing.
In the meantime, I sense that good changes are picking up speed in the Church. The biological solution is taking care of the aging-hippies. Young people don’t have the baggage of the previous generations. Summorum Pontificum and the Holy Father’s other initiatives are exerting their "gravitational pull" on many spheres of the Church’s life. Catholics are waking up to their identity, just as you are.
You have many resources at your fingertips, books, internet, church.
You have the sacraments.
You have lots and lots of company.