I was raised Catholic. Growing up, religion and church didn’t mean that much to me. We had to go to mass every Sunday, and we had to go through all the rites like first communion and confirmation. In college, very few people went to church (welcome to a public university) and I never went either. I went a few times post-college to a church in Dinkytown that had an awesome preacher. I really liked Father Jim and his sermons, and that’s what got my interested in church and religion. TD and I were married there, but we left shortly after we got married because Father Jim was reassigned elsewhere (Memphis actually) and the new guy wasn’t a good preacher. Because going to church was very important to TD, we found a decent liberal Catholic church in south Minneapolis that we liked, so we joined there. We were really active there and made lots of friends.
When TD and I separated, we stopped going to that church. Because we were so active and knew so many people, when we separated, going to mass became going to be grilled on “how are you” and “what happened”. I couldn’t just go and worship like a stranger. So I stopped going. TD, I believe, found another Catholic church to go to. (He feels far too guilty if he misses a weekend of mass. I on the other hand think that God’s OK if I skip one Sunday.) Then the separation anxiety in my dog got worse, and I couldn’t leave him home alone. Sunday was the one day he wasn’t at doggie daycare, so I stayed home with him on Sundays.
Bottom line, I haven’t really been to church much in the last 4-5 years. I’ve been realizing lately that I’m missing that spiritual nurturing and the community. So I’d like to get back to going to church.
But I have such issues with the Catholic church now. I’m not a big fan of where Rome and the bishops have the church headed. It’s a very 1950s kind of philosophy. Women should stay home and have 6000 kids. You should do watch the church tells you to do – no questions. The only true faith is the Catholic faith. No divorce, even if it makes you happier and healthier and even if you’ve tried to make the relationship work. The Vatican issued a proclamation a few months ago about what wording in the mass responses were changing. Seriously? With all the problems in the world, that’s how you’re focusing your energy?? The church says no condoms period, not even in Africa, where AIDS is spreading so quickly. To me, that’s the church being out of touch with reality.
There are good things with Catholicism too. I love the rituals and the deep meaning behind them. I love knowing that the mass is celebrated very closely to how it was in the original church. I find comfort in the mass because it is so familiar to me.
I always thought if I left the Catholic church, it would be to Episcopalian aka Catholic Lite. It’s so similar to Catholicism but much more liberal in thought and more applicable to daily life. I just assumed I’d end up there.
My friend KC invited me to try her EFCA church. I knew it would be very different, although I wasn’t sure what it would be like. I did some investigating beforehand to see what the philosophy of that domination is. Was it something I could live with? No church will be a perfect fit, and to a certain extent I believe that all loving religions are different paths to the same place. EFCA seemed to be pretty reasonable in its philosophy, so I went yesterday. I also went because I think it’s awesome how KC incorporates God and faith into her daily life without being in-your-face and over-the-top about it.
It was a great service. The preaching was outstanding and very applicable to daily life. It also dove into bible study a bit, which doesn’t happen in the Catholic church. Lots of good music too. No communion which was weird. Apparently they do it on the first Sunday of every month, but it was strange not to have it. KC and I went to lunch afterwards to talk about it. I asked some questions, told her my concerns, she tried to answer the questions. I’m interested in learning more and maybe going to another service.
But I know I could NOT tell my parents or my sisters about this. To them, Catholicism is the only way. To my sisters, I probably wouldn’t be able to hang out with my nieces and nephews because I would not be of the true faith and would be going to hell. (Well, to them, I am going to hell anyway because I’m divorced.) They would also try to convert me back to Catholicism through guilt and shame. So if I change churches and denominations, I could only tell my brother and my dad. Another thing to consider? Or does that not really factor in to the decision?
Hopefully, I’ll be able to figure out this path and find a good church for me. But it is making me think about God and religion and spirituality a lot. I’ve been neglecting that part of myself for a while, and now the universe is telling me to pay attention to it. This could be an interesting journey…
“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”