Wednesday, August 24, 2011

deep thoughts at 4:30 a.m.

from here

You're not gonna believe this. I mean, I can hardly even believe I'm about to type it. So, brace yourself. Ready?

I'm thinking of leaving the Catholic Church.

{I'll give you a minute to regain your composure.}

So, it's late in the day today, which means I'm not going to delve into this in a big way right now, but it just might be a topic I start to cover in some of my future posts. But I will provide you with some itty-bitty detail of how I came to the position I now find myself in.

My mom.

If you've read my blog for some time, you know that my mom is mentally ill. And one of the ways her mental illness rears its ugly head is through an unhealthy obsession with Catholicism. Basically, my mom believes every. single. thing. the Catholic Church teaches, and there is, in her eyes, absolutely no gray area whatsoever. Everything is absolute and black-and-white.

And it hurts my heart.

And lately, there have a been a few passing comments I've made, to which she, in turn, has added her own comments, and it all came to a head this morning at 4:30 when I woke up and couldn't stop thinking about it all. I almost threw up.

Recently, I mentioned that I might want to start yoga.
To which my mother replied that it's against Catholic teaching, that it's spiritually dangerous, and something that non-Christians invented.
To which I cringed and wanted to rip out her tongue.  {What? Too much?}

I mentioned that my dear friend from grad school was very worried that she wouldn't be able to carry a child due to chronic medical conditions she has and that I would be her surrogate in a heartbeat if it meant that she could have a baby.
To which my mother replied, "Oh, no! Laura! No, no! That's up to God! If it's His will..." blah blah blah 
To which I almost hung up the phone on her immediately.

The list goes on and on. So I did some research. And it is true, unfortunately, that the Catholic Church is against both of these things I mention (among a bazillion other things). It's not like I didn't know that the Catholic Church had strict teachings on some topics, but I think I just decided to ignore them. But now, I feel like I can't. And it's eating me up inside.

Like gay rights.
Like women's rights.
Like marriage rights.
Like contraceptive rights.
Like surrogacy rights.
Like women as priests.
Like a bazillion other things that the Church is so against. And I just want to throw up.

But there are so many things I love about the Catholic Church. And so I'm torn. Someone on Twitter today mentioned that maybe this isn't a faith issue with me but, instead, a parent issue. That could be it. Maybe I have to remind myself that I am my own woman, my own human, my own Catholic. My faith isn't going to be a cookie-cutter image of my mother's (THANK GOODNESS), nor does it have to be. But part of me thinks I need to take a closer look and see if I really CAN continue to be Catholic.

Ugh. Religion. It's so exhausting.

I'm gonna go eat a donut.

9 lovely bits o' feedback.:

Laureen said...

Well. No one else has posted, so let me be the first. Listen, girl. In the past year I've turned my belief system on its head. So much of what I've believed is what other people told me. Did I believe it? Absolutely. Have I changed it? Absolutely. Maybe it's age. I am of an age, after all. But my plumb line is Jesus & the Bible, and after that, it's just a lot of work and praying & thinking & listening: what do I believe. I, as in me, as in my heart & soul, and do I have the courage to actually look at myself & listen & believe for me. Take heart & have courage. You are on the way. Hold fast to Jesus. And then step out. I'll step with you. PS You got a donut there for me? I'll be right over.

Eric Williams said...

I apologize in advance if I am too blunt. Sometimes diplomacy and delicate presentation are difficult for me.

What are the things that you love about the Catholic Church? Are they unique to the Catholic Church? If not, perhaps it's not really the Church you love. Are they matters of doctrine or Sacred Tradition? If so, why do you accept those teachings but not others?

By no means do I wish to shoo you out of the Church, but I can't help but wonder how you can remain in it in good conscience if you do not accept its teachings. Put simply, either Christ endowed it with the authority to defend and teach the Faith in His name, or He didn't. Either the Church teaches the Truth, or it doesn't. Doctrines can't be picked and chosen in an ala carte fashion.

Have you attempted to understand why the Church teaches what it teaches? Do you have a spiritual director? Have you spoken to him about your concerns?

Anonymous said...

there's no wrong answer as long as it comes from your gut and your heart...get your brain out of it...
former catholic girl

Chris said...

You have to go with what you believe. Do we currently belong to a Catholic church? Yep. Do I buy into everything they teach? Uh, no. The Husband was raised Methodist. Sometimes that seems like a more open society if you know what I mean. Our current Catholic state is more opportunistic if you will. The
Kid was attending Catholic school and that was our community so we joined the Church. We have raised The Kid to ask questions and never accept any one faith as the end all be all. He has attended Jewish Daycamp, has friends who are Eastern Orthodox and Muslim. I wouldn't change what he is learning for the world and I am proud that he questions things in all faiths that he believes to be unfair or unreasonable. We all should do that. My great-uncle was raised in a staunch Irish Catholic family but as an intellectual could not reconcile the Church's teachings with what he knew about the world. He joined the Unitarian Universalists and became more comfortable in his faith. It is all about exploring and finding the way you can be intellectual and faithful at the same time.

Kt said...

I know a bit of what you are going through. I married a man who had been divorced in his early twenties and gone on to grow and find love again with me, an Italian Catholic girl. I knew the church would not marry us, since he had been divorced, but I dared to ask my childhood priest to say a blessing over our marriage and he refused. I felt so rejected and alone in my faith. I still cherish and miss the tradition and grandeur of a Catholic mass celebration, but have decided that a church that does not accept my family cannot be my own.
After our daughter was born, we were asked if we would raise her Catholic, and I thought about it and decided against it, since I did not feel comfortable raising her in a religion that technically considered her illegitimate.
I know every day that I made the right choice in choosing my family to be accepted and welcomed in our faith, but still ache for the familiarity and tradition of my upbringing. On those days, I pray that God will lead me to one day feel as strongly about my new faith that has welcomed us so openly.

Skeptical Czarina said...

I am a far lapsed Catholic so of course I am not the best source here. But as KT mentioned I miss the grandeur and ritual associated with the Catholic Mass. My husband was not raised in any religious tradition so we are currently trying various churches. Thus far we have attended Methodist and Episcopal. We may try Presbyterian and Baptist next. I felt very at home in the Episcopal church. It was Catholic lite, all of the prayers are the same. They do allow women priests and are open to gay people. My brother in law is gay and is very active at Calvary Episcopal in Shadyside. I believe he is even on their board. However, I also believe, and this is horrible, that my mother in law does not believe that his church is a "real church" because how could they be if they accept "the gays." So it all comes back to my general distrust of religion, I do feel that with my impending child that he should be brought up in some sort of religion. The benefits of learning morality early on are wonderful, I would liek to take a pass on the instilling of Catholic guilt though. So we shall see. Good luck to you though as you examine your faith, it may make it even stronger in the end.

Lauren said...

It's important to remember that faith and religion are NOT the same thing. Faith is the very personal, spiritual connection you feel with a higher being. Religion is a bunch of people telling you how your deeply personal, spiritual connection with a higher being should be.

Leaving the Catholic Church would not mean that you are leaving God, or that you are leaving your Catholic friends, or that you're leaving your family. It just means that you're choosing to express your faith in a different way - the way that's right for YOU.

Rachal said...

I'm not sure if I would say that this post makes me happy, since it doesn't really make me happy to think of you "losing faith" or something. But I think it's good that you're questioning these things, because I think that questioning is an indication of a mature faith.

I was raised Catholic, as I think you know, and my father is a former-Catholic-priest-turned-Buddhist, so I have a decent grounding in the Catholic Church and its rituals, rules, tenets, etc... As a teenager, I began to notice that I liked a lot of the ritual, but disliked and disagreed with pretty much everything else. Since that time, after a rather long period of fairly anti-religious feeling, I've come to see myself as what I would call a religious pluralist. By which I mean that while I do not associate myself with any particular religious belief, I appreciate the beauty of religious experience in a very general sense, even coming to find beauty in the Catholic church that I used to find so ugly. There are certainly many things about the Church that I take issue with, to the point that I no longer attend and do not consider myself a Catholic in any real sense. But there are also a lot of great things about it, and great things about religious faith in general.

It's odd for me to be saying this, especially since I don't practice any particular religion at all anymore, but if you still have any of the real FAITH(not just adherence to church doctrine) that you've described in earlier posts and that I've felt from you in the few years we've known each other, I think that's something incredibly powerful and something to hold on to. Holding on may also mean leaving the "Church" while still maintaining a relationship with God, or with whatever sustains you and gives you faith(in yourself, in others, in the future, etc...). Either way, I think you're doing the right thing by actually thinking about these things, and questioning. Never stop asking questions.

Oh, and by the way, anyone who has actually done yoga with an open heart and mind will probably tell you that it's spiritually liberating and fulfilling, not dangerous. I'm heading into my sixth month of daily yoga, and I can't even begin to explain how it's changed me. I love it. I think you should definitely give it a try.

Paul Cat said...

So let me get this straight. You are considering leaving the Catholic Church because there are people in it that can be over zealous?

Also, would you prefer your mother not care?