Confessions of a crazy mom

getting whipped, coming back for more!

Do I Really Need Church

At what point is it best to say – I’m doing this for myself? I’m not too insular in my existence but I do think that I can think. I’ve taught myself plenty of stuff including the difference between right and wrong so perhaps I can also find my way by navigating through the moral maze that is lying around me? This is possibly a bit edgy – but also very, very funny – and a true explanation of the power – or at least the power of the mass event … watch if you dare!

I haven’t been to church in months. I didn’t decided to leave Catholicism, it’s more that I needed to take a break and really think about whether or not it was the right place for me. I’ve always believed that even if you feel like you aren’t getting anything out of it, it’s never a bad thing to go to Mass, because you never know what little snippet of wisdom you might hear or what blessing you might gain just from being in the presence of a group of believers. But lately, I’ve felt frustrated with the Church, really with religion in general, and needed to step back.

For some people, it’s easy to accept that the Church isn’t perfect and to ignore the teachings and rules that they don’t like and still call themselves Catholic, but for me it’s not that simple. I was feeling very conflicted about saying I was Catholic if I wasn’t on board with some of the key teachings of the Church. I have issues with some very specific things and some very general things, but to list them here would seem petty, I think. It’s really more that I just see everything different these days, and I wasn’t feeling like my vision and the vision of Catholicism were in sync anymore. To me Church was feeling more like a mandate of what you had to do, say and believe if you wanted to get to heaven than it was about anything spiritual. I found that I wasn’t proud to say I was Catholic anymore. Why would I want to claim membership in this group that in my mind doesn’t welcome everyone to the table? I no longer wanted to take part in the Eucharist if a woman who was divorced and remarried wasn’t allowed or if a gay man who was simply living his truth wasn’t allowed? What about the patriarchal culture and what I perceived to be discrimination against woman? Believe me when I say, that I have read and heard all of the reasons these rules exist, and the Church has some very convincing evidence, but all I know is that I too have a conscience and it was unsettled. It was no longer okay to participate in things that felt wrong because some men had studied the Bible and told me I had to. The Dalai Lama has been known to say that he practices the religion of kindness, and I have to wonder, is that enough? Do we really need any formal religion at all?

Right now I’m in limbo. I’m reading a lot, thinking a lot, praying and meditating a lot. I talk about it to anyone who’s interested, but I’m careful. I’ve risked speaking up directly to people and sometimes that has only caused anger and hurt feelings. I can’t say that I regret speaking up but I can’t confidently say it was worth it either.

My biggest concern about all of this is for my kids. I agreed to raise them Catholic, they go to a Catholic school and yet here I am doubting all of that and worrying about how my uncertainty is affecting them. They aren’t old enough to get into the deep philosophical questions I have and of course they aren’t the least bit bothered by not attending Mass every week, but I never want them to have the impression that their faith isn’t an important part of their life. An excerpt in The Dance of the Dissident Daughter has helped me through all that…

“Not setting the ‘proper and accepted’ religious example for them conjured up images of the bad mother, the worst mother. Yet wouldn’t the example of a mother being true to her journey, taking a stand against patriarchy, and questing for spiritual meaning and wholeness, even when it meant exiting circles of orthodoxy, be a worthwhile example?

As I looked at their faces, love filled me up. It was the wise and difficult love that reminds parents that all we can really do is be true to our own spiritual unfolding and trust that our examples will one day help them be true to theirs. For children have a guiding spiritual wisdom inside of them, too.”

~Sue Monk Kidd

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

Along the way, I have been comforted by many things, and found countless reasons for staying. I have met several people who feel the way I do, some who are just beginning, as I am, and others who have gotten past this point and been able to find their own place in the Church despite the imperfections. I found the books, daily meditations, and homilies of Fr Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who gets to the heart of the church, what lies beneath all the doctrine. A priest who is openly critical of what goes on the Church today, but still loves the Church and believes that change will only come from people inside who are speaking up out of that love. I read a story about Mother Theresa who was known to tell her sisters that it wasn’t their job to tell the people they were serving about Jesus or to try to convert them to Christianity, it was their job to be Jesus.

The Church is made up of imperfect people and I realize it will never be exactly what I think it should be. I hope to get to a place where I can feel at peace with being there again. That I can get past the anger and frustration I feel now and take it for what it is. That I can feel at home in the ultra-conservative parish I’m in without compromising my more liberal beliefs, and also that I can learn to bless others for wherever they are on their journey instead of so badly wanting to make them see things the way I do. For now, I’m trusting the path that I’m on. After all, as a dear friend reminded me last week, “He put the search in my soul.”

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 19th, 2012 at 11:06 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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