24 May TALES FROM THE JOURNEY HOME: “The Prodigal Son”
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
A. Retired military / Internet Marketing Consultant
3. Where do you live?
A. Ohio, USA
4. How old were you when you left the Church?
A. I left right after high school
5. Why did you leave the Church?
In a word – rebellion. A couple of verses in Luke (15:12-13) of the Prodigal Son sums it up best: “and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.”
6. When and why did you return?
A. There was a family incident that triggered it, but the reality my “life of dissipation” had been leading up to that point for many years. After being away for over 25 years, our entire family attended mass together. To my shock and dismay, the gospel reading that Sunday was “the Prodigal Son”. As I listened to the reading I looked at my family and felt so ashamed for having let them and myself down. We started attending mass together weekly and started making arrangements to get them caught up on the sacraments. My wife had decided to convert and enrolled in the RCIA program.
As we continued to attend mass and I was sponsoring my wife in the RCIA program I was SHOCKED at all the changes in the liturgy from what I remember from my childhood. The first few times I attended Mass I felt stupid and wondered to myself when did they change all this stuff (extra altar facing the people, communion rail gone, taking communion in the hand, Eucharistic ministers, etc.)
What I had to learn, and it took some time, was that in reality the faith hadn’t really changed at all but rather many changes had been made in the “spirit of Vatican II” that weren’t really changes at all, but rather leaders in the church who’s egos had caused them to go astray, and lead many of the faithful down the same path in the process.
I began attending daily Mass in the parish chapel before going to work, and there was an elderly gentleman there every day who always said “there will be a Rosary after Mass”. One day I decided to stay and that started me on a glide path that would change my life forever. I started receiving many graces, and the scales began falling from my eyes and I realized that most of the changes that had been done in the so called “spirit of Vatican 2” were in fact derived from quite a different spirit, one that was not true to the faith.
I was led to a series of individuals who helped me in relearning the faith, but they were all lay people, and having grown up in a church where the priest was the final authority of all things spiritual, I was seeking a more authoritative source. I prayed a novena to St. Joseph for a spiritual director and was led to an elderly Marian devoted priest in the diocese of Rochester who like so many others, had been banished to the outskirts of the diocese in a parish the size of a VFW hall where he would be “out of the way”. Despite being an hour’s drive away I began seeing him weekly for confession and counseling, which continued for a year. It was time well spent, as I would later learn that “back in the day” he had been the Vicar for Religious Education in the diocese of Rochester under none other than (wait for it…) Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen!
7. What advice would you offer to someone who has left the Church?
A. My advice is come back and be true to your roots. Stick with the two basics of the faith; Mary and the Eucharist, and you won’t be led astray by all the distractions and turmoil in the Church and world today. Say the Rosary daily, frequent confession and Mass and your spiritual compass will remain focused on true North.
“But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ – Luke 15:32