Losing PART of my religion
Updated: Feb 1, 2020
I’m a recent covert to Catholicism. It was a sincere, soul-filled conversion that surprised everyone but me.
I did lots of research before converting. And I sincerely believe it’s the church Jesus established.
But after my first few years as a full-fledged Catholic in one of the few parishes in Tucson that is SRO nearly every Sunday...I get the feeling He would not be very proud of what it has become, since.
So I had to step away, take a loooooong break, before I started to really, really dislike and distrust it to the point that I could never go back.
No, it’s it’s not the molestation debacle this time. In fact, to be fair, it’s not just Catholicism I’m having issues with.
There are, of course, the Evangelicals who have betrayed their beliefs to venerate a man whose morals are reprehensible and values are…well…not sure he has any, really. Trump.
But actually, I feel that most organized religions are somehow “missing the point.”
Avoiding something — hiding from the harsh realities and deep seated conflicts of our current world.
I wanted to be wrong about that.
So I took some time to look into several local churches in the hope of finding a place to worship. And came away disheartened.
A wonderful book entitled The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus — by well known “heretic’ Bruxy Cavey — posits that many Christians are more enamored of the chalice than the sacred blood that chalice contains.
I love that line. Particularly as it pertains to my current faith.
Because it explains one reason going to Mass every week was starting to feel like a chore.
I wanted the ritual. The ceremonies. The pageantry. Still do.
It’s not just good theater. It’s my way of meditating and humbling myself, when I kneel in church and repeat those time honored words. Eucharistic adoration, especially, for me, is a mystical experience like no other.
Sitting in the presence of the Lord of All Himself, meditating, ruminating, waiting for a whisper.
But Mass had begun to feel so…rote. As if we were just mouthing the words. And the words spoken between the rote recitations had nothing to do with the real world I lived in outside those beautiful walls.
The sole crusade in our own church community was against abortion. Never heard any real concrete plans to help or try to understand the women who chose to abort or to find homes for the children of the women they convinced not to — just the same rosary every Saturday evening. Same faces. Phrases.
We’re facing unprecedented turmoil out there — the actual world may come to an end within a decade or two. America is on the brink of a dictatorship and/or second civil war. Babies were torn from the arms of their parents at the border — I don’t need to run this down for you. You know where we are right now.
At times like these, I look to my church for guidance. I want my church to not just comment upon but to be in the struggle.
Mine…seemed to be oblivious to it.
Week after week our pastor stood beneath that bloodied, suffering Jesus and spoke of…nothing that that Jesus bled and died for, really. Nothing He would be fighting for right now, if He were here.
I waited and waited and waited…
But felt less and less engaged. Less and less present myself, after a while.
Especially after that same pastor was inexplicably promoted and began to be called away constantly. We had a different pastor every week almost for a while. Some were really there with us, some…not so much.
And one, bless him — the second of two African priests-in-training we’ve had — was incomprehensible. He spoke English, with a lovely, lilting accent. But it was almost impossible to understand the words he spoke with such fervor and conviction. The lilt made you long to, but the words themselves were often unrecognizable.
So week after week we all sat straining to decipher his homilies. Smiling and looking around at each other when he posed a question to the congregation, hoping someone nearby had managed to figure out what we were being asked to say or invited to do.
I felt as if we’d been abandoned. Set even further adrift. As if Catholicism is doubting itself as much as I am doubting it and has no clue what to do.
And what of that “community” of which we speak so fondly? Christ’s “body” charged to do His work on Earth?
Oh, we have “groups.” Organizations. Sister and brotherhoods. Famous and massive ones. Powerful ones that run not just churches but whole governments.
On the local level, when we meet…I feel as if, again, we’re celebrating ourselves and our faith…in a kind of bubble while the mad, mad world churns on. And I could be wrong, but teas, dinner dances and golf tournaments are probably not the answer.
Nothin’ wrong with any of that. Don’t get it twisted.
I just have a hard time dancing when there are children sleeping in cages not knowing when or if they’ll see their parents again. Things like that make petits fours seem kind of…well…petit…
Thankfully, I have always had a “close personal relationship” with Jesus. A deep, lifelong love that never wavers.
So I turned back to Him. I’m waiting on the Lord, as my Baptist mother would’ve put it, to point me in the right direction — this song talks about that.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
And I’m fine with the wait. I may be better off, waiting.
Beliefs laid bare. Having to live and contemplate them on my own, daily, instead of relying on a weekly Mass as proof of my piety.
I am what I professed I would be when I was baptized. I take that with me wherever I go and always will.
It is His precious blood that nourishes me, even now that I have stepped away from the church where the gorgeous golden chalices are housed.
I am on a journey to find a new home for myself now. Or back to the one I chose not long ago — that could happen, too.
I will keep you posted…