Since everyone’s asking, and because aggressive proselytism is the duty of every Christian as commanded by Our Blessed Lord in absolutely no uncertain terms in the Great Commission, and because time’s a wastin’, here is my advice on how to go about entering the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This advice will be assuming the reader is in North America.
A.) Find a Latin Mass parish that is in full communion with the Holy See. There are two main fraternaties right now, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King. Here are their respective websites. Cruise over and see if either of these societies has a parish within any sort of driving distance to you.
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter www.FSSP.com
(Click on “FSSP Apostolates and Locations” at the top of the page)
The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest www.institute-christ-king.org
(list of parishes on the right side of the page)
If you strike out there, take a look at the list below, assembled by the Ecclesia Dei commission.
There are more and more Traditional Masses being offered by diocesan priests and others all the time. The blunt truth is simply this: with the Traditional Mass you stand much, much, much better odds of finding a priest who actually believes in Our Lord, in His Holy Church, what the Church teaches, and is neither a Marxist nor a sodomite, and will thus be overjoyed at the prospect of another soul entering the Church, because the Traditional Mass, saturated with orthodoxy and glorious masculine beauty as it is, is abhorrent and repellant to Marxists, sodomites and heretics. I’m not going to promise you 100% odds, but they will be much, much better than just stumbling into your closest Novus Ordo parish.
B.) When asked why you want to convert, begin and end whatever you say with the Eucharist and the Mass. I want to enter the Church because I am given to understand that the Eucharist is the physical substance of God and the Mass is the once-and-for-all sacrifice of Calvary made present in time. Then fill in whatever details you would like. Some, but certainly not all, traditional priests in the U.S. know my name and roughly what is discussed around here. If you want to drop my name I would be most humbled, and if the priest knows of this website, it will give him a good idea of where you are coming from and possibly save some time. Or not.
C.) Entering the Church is a big, big deal with massive corollary responsibilities and consequences. You don’t get married on the first date, and you don’t enter the Church the Sunday after you present yourself to a priest. You have to receive instruction. This will go on for as long as the priest deems it necessary, because he is the shepherd and you, little lamb, are his responsibility. This time should be measured in MONTHS, not weeks. You will be expected to start attending Mass every Sunday – and why wouldn’t you, right?
D.) Be certain to ask for instruction in the rubrics of the Mass itself, and how to use a hand missal. It only takes three or four Masses tops to get comfortable with what is going on. Be curious. Ask questions (in the appropriate time and place). The Church and the Mass exist FOR YOUR BENEFIT. They are your inheritance. Claim it.
E.) Womenfolk: Gitcha a real purty veil. I strongly recommend Veils By Lily. I also strongly recommend having Lily sew one of her handy dandy combs into your veil(s) so you can wear it swept-back Grace Kelly style, and so it stays in place and you don’t have to keep messing with it. Trust me, ladies. Go with the comb.
F.) Ask the priest to introduce you to people in the parish. One of the pleasant things (to me) about going to a Traditional Mass is that you probably aren’t going to be swarmed and interrogated by a welcome wagon. People leave you alone. This is often mistaken, especially by people coming out of the Protestant milieu, as aloofness or snobbery. No. It is merely the fact that the reason people go to Mass is to… WORSHIP GOD, not to socialize. Protestant gatherings are mere social experiences, as there is no real worship going on, because remember, worship involves the offering of a sacrifice, and Protestantism BY DEFINITION denies the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. So all that is left is socializing and entertainment, punctuated by some mindless improvised prayer. “Lord, we just… we just want to thank You for this day and for this fellowship, and we just… just…” Anyway, simply ask the priest if he would mind introducing you around at the coffee and doughnuts time after Mass if they have such a thing, or just to some other families privately. Once you’re introduced, you’ll have a whole church full of new friends and acquaintances.
G.) Like every other group of human beings in the world ever, there are some crazy cuckoopants people in Traddyland. I mean some real nutters. You know, like, er… ME! Just brace for this now.
H.) If you are on the pill or otherwise contracepting, either chemically, surgically or mechanically, understand right now that that is going to have to stop. If you are shacking up, that is going to have to end. If you are divorced and remarried, that is going to have to be addressed, and I can’t promise you that there is an easy-peasy “happy” ending there. Harsh but true. But remember, ANYONE can go to Mass. ANYONE can kneel and pray before Our Lord in the Tabernacle or exposed in a monstrance. ANYONE can make a SPIRITUAL COMMUNION with Our Lord. In fact, you should start making spiritual communions NOW. Right now. Right this second, and whenever you want for the rest of your life, including and most especially at Mass.
I.) If there simply is no way to get to a Traditional Mass parish or a priest who offers the Traditional Mass, find the best Novus Ordo parish you can. I came into the Church through a Novus Ordo parish, if that is any edification to you. But understand that even the best Novus Ordo parish may be … lacking. I’ll conclude with an anecdote. I came into the Church through a big, new, successful parish in Denver. It was and is widely regarded as one of the most conservative and exemplary parishes in the archdiocese of Denver, and the pastor is very popular among the laity. At the Easter Vigil Mass the year AFTER I entered the Church (so, ARSH 2008), after that year’s group of catechumens and candidates had been happily received and baptized and confirmed, the priest began his homily with the following joke:
“I want to offer a special greeting to our catechumens and candidates, now full members of the Body of Christ, soon to receive their first Holy Communions, because I know that we will probably never see most of you at Mass ever again.”
The nave, full to the rafters, erupted into uproarious laughter. I sat there with my mouth hanging open. I found a Traditional Mass a few weeks later and never, ever looked back.
J.) Once He has you, He will put you through the sweet, sweet meat grinder of love. Don’t think that entering the Church is going to make you rich or perpetually deliriously happy or anything like that. If what you need to get to heaven is suffering, then that is what is going to happen. Believe me. But understand that His yoke is indeed light and sweet IF and ONLY IF you surrender to it and trust Him. He will not give you more than you can carry. And remember, He suffered in every way that a human being can suffer, so no matter what happens to you, if you pray and meditate on His Passion, you will find your own sufferings right there with Him, and then you will realize that you are not alone because He is right there with you, and that your sufferings are how He is drawing you closer to Him, because He really, really loves you. And that certainly takes the edge off, to put it mildly.