Sunday, July 15, 2012

Questioning Me?


So I sit here and ponder, delve, dwell and soul search. It is has been a ridiculous week because of the garage sale and a multitude of other things too (by the way....never again the whole garage sale thing). This summer has been one of many new experiences and so far....a well used summer. Having a well used summer though means that little time is wasted on things like relaxation, sleep or even thought and most of the time is spent working, moving forward and trying to accomplish (thus the whole garage sale thing). It can leave a body as well as a mind, feeling somewhere between exhausted and comatose. That is where today finds me. I guess when I get this tired....my mind tends to make up for lost time and wander, drift, question and ultimately try to sort through that which I usually have no time to dwell on let alone even give a real thought to. Today's dwell is appropriately church. Please forgive any ramblings because at this point....today is all about free flowing wordage or more simply put....if I think it my fingers will type it. 

In my exhaustion, I did not get up and go to Mass. As Catholics we are taught that Mass and Holy Days are required and to miss them is a sin. Now I know many will scoff at this idea and many who have left the church will completely use this as one of the reasons they found the Catholic church to be stifling or wrong or at the very least one of the top three excuses why they left. For me though....I look at the rules, teachings and/or beliefs of Catholicism or any religion for that matter to not be a jail cell with a lock and key but more of an invitation to anyone who chooses to live with those guidelines set in place. I get very frustrated with those who leave the Catholic Church and call themselves "recovering Catholics" as if somehow they were forced into servitude to God, Christianity or the Catholic Church and they had to fight to get out. I want to and actually have asked such people just what they are recovering from. After all the teachings of the Church were put in place long before any of us were put on this earth and have stayed the same for the most part since Jesus chose Peter to be the very first Pope. The Catholic church is not a requirement but more of a anyone's welcome as long as you follow the teachings. If you choose to not follow the teachings then you are really not living life as a Catholic so why be there and why put the blame on the Church when it is ultimately your choice to live outside the faith? It is really no different than anything else in life. If you join a club....most clubs have rules, beliefs, whatever....and if you don't adhere to them then you are not considered a member of the club. If you choose not to follow the club rules are you a "recovering" club member? Is it the clubs fault that you did not want to follow the rules? How about your work place? Most work places have rules, standards, etc. If you don't follow the rules and get fired.....is that the work places fault? Perhaps you see where I am going with all of this (or maybe not), but I think the point I am trying to make is....if you can't follow the rules, beliefs, etc......set forth by the Catholic Church...then why blame the Church? Why not just move on? I guess it is easier to look to blame others than it is to admit that you just couldn't cut the rules!

I myself have not always been the most obedient Catholic where rules, beliefs and doctrine have been concerned. Never though have I blamed the Church for my choices. There have been times that I have not gone to Mass for rather lengthy periods of time not because I felt the Church was wrong and I was right, but because I was not living according to what the Church asked of me and therefore I felt hypocritical for going to church and "acting" as if I was. Now let me make something clear here.....I never quit having faith, I never quit believing in God and most of all......I never felt as if the Catholic Church wronged me because it's rules did not mesh with the life I was choosing at that point in time to live. I simply felt as if I was disrespecting Gods rules and His house when I wasn't living by the church teachings and doctrine. Some will argue here that IF the rules weren't so strict then I wouldn't have had such a siege of conscience that kept me from church, but I will rebuttal with the fact that it is not up to the Church to bend for me. If I can't accept and live by the teachings of the Church then I simply should not be there. Again....rules should not be broken to cater to those who want to live/act in accordance with their own whims and desires. Besides...there are a million and one religions out there, if one doesn't agree with your personal desires....surely another one will.

So back to my original train of thought. I did not go to Mass today. Part of it has to do with exhaustion and part of it has to do with what is going on inside of me right now. I am not losing faith nor do I blame anyone or anything (especially not the Church) for what I am feeling right now. I am simply in a place where I am trying to make sense of everything and maybe because I am tired or because I am in a new place in my life or maybe just because I haven't really had time to do a lot of soul searching of late....but I am just standing back and catching my breath. To be honest....at this point in my life, I have a pretty good idea of what I want (or at least think I want) and I kind of know what works and what doesn't in my life, but when things are in constant change, sometimes you just have to stand back and see how all the pieces are falling. Maybe that is what I am doing. I love the Catholic Church. I love the history, the belief, the doctrine and most of all the faith I have been given because of what I have learned over the years. It is because of this that I want to be the best Catholic I can be and right now....I don't feel like I am. There is something inside of me that is missing and I am struggling spiritually right now....not because of doctrine, rules, etc....but because of me. I know that once I reconcile what is going on in my head, my life and my heart.....then all will fit again....but today I am at loose ends. No...I am not questioning God, my church or my faith......I am simply questioning me.

And this folks is what happens when I am tired and the brain and the keyboard try to blog unchaperoned! ;)

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting blog today. I think even the most devout have a crisis of faith or maybe religion from time to time. It does not make us bad it just makes us free thinkers in a society where religious freedom is currently our right. I have faith that your faith will see you through this.

T S Elliott said...

What a brave and honest blog today. It is hard to say that spiritually you are just not there sometimes. I am sure it is even harder for a Catholic. I love that you talked about spiritual loose ends without bashing your religion or any religion or lack of religion what so ever. I have read and reread this blog twice and in some ways I find this particular piece an amazing read. You should let your brain and your keyboard go unchapperoned more often.

Anonymous said...

Intriguing blog.

Spiritually Blessed said...

Recovering Catholic! I have also heard that term before. I am not a Catholic and I had no idea what they might be recovering from but the term always made me chuckle. I know the Catholic church has its issues but the issues seem to be with the people and not the church itself. People always seem to manage to screw up perfectly good things. I have been in a Catholic church numerous times through out my life and I always found the service to be beautiful and almost serene. I especially liked going around the holidays. Think I even went to midnight mass a time or two. I think spirituality comes from within. If you find a religion that blends well with your spirituality then more power to you. It sounds like you have just slipped off the tracks but not completely derailed. I think you and your church will find your way back to each other and by the way, really nice blog.

Questioning Everything said...

Your blog brings up some questions in my mind. Can you be a Catholic and disagree with the rules? The Catholic church has rules that don't exactly coincide with modern thinking such as birth control, abortion, homosexuality, masterbation and divorce. If you go against or break those rules are you ex-communicated, shunned or condemned to hell or can you live within the church peacefully agreeing to disagree although why would you want to if you were so far apart on so many issues? Since as you said history tells us that Jesus himself started the Catholic church will he forgive the Catholic that goes against the rules or is it the people inside the church who are unforgiving? I know you have confession but what good is it if you commit the same acts over again feeling that a quick trip to the confessional frees you up until the next time? I personally think that being a Catholic would be difficult. Not only for the rules but also for the media attention the church gets because of the fallible humans that sometimes tend to be in charge in an infallible religion. I am not trying to diss Catholics or the religion I am just someone on the outside looking in and because of your blog, these questions long held in the back of my mind came to the surface. I would love to know your thoughts on all of this. Thought provoking blog.

*Christina* said...

I really love this blog Lisa! So much of what you said is exactly how I feel but never knew how to put into words. <3 Great post!

Cmom said...

I don't usually come back and comment on my blogs after I have written them but today's blur of thoughts apparently brought up questions that I thought I would address. To Questioning Everything: I must confess I don't know the exact rules of ex-communication but I am pretty sure in order to be ex-communicated the "rule breaking" has to be pretty severe. And last I knew condemning someone to hell was for God and God alone to do. I do agree with your whole take on confession. While I feel that it is a very important and soul cleansing sacrament I agree that it is used and abused and often used as a temporary "get out of jail" card of sorts. The true purpose of confession is to confess, be heartfully sorry, penitent and promise to never commit said offense again. Sadly it does not appear that the solemnity or the importance of the sacrament are used accordingly in todays world. That being said....only God Himself knows what is in our heart and whether we have true sorrow or not and for humans to try to judge such a thing is way over stepping bounds. The Church does have some pretty strict rules and if you take things such as abortion, birth control and such and look back at the reasons for each of these you will find that ultimately they make sense or at least made sense at the time. That being said there are a few rules that I have my own questions about. Since they don't actually affect my life in a way that causes me personally to sin or not to sin then it is much easier for me to sit back and contemplate how they fit into my modern belief system. When in doubt...I always defer to the greatest set of rules Christians of all faiths have: The Ten Commandments. If I am on the fence about something...I ask myself if it falls under the Ten Commandments. If it doesn't then perhaps it is a gray area that is not as yet clearly defined. If however for example abortion which definitely falls under the "Thou Shall Not Kill" category then I am pretty confident it is a sin and a fairly large one to boot. As for your comment on fallible humans being put in charge in an infallible church...I agree. But the fact is...anything that humans touch will ultimately become tainted with humanity because we are not perfect! I hope this answered some questions.

Anonymous said...

I gotta disagree with the notion that Jesus created the Catholic Church. I checked my Bible. Its not in there.

God created Faith. It is through Him that we find Salvation and ever lasting life. This I see as an Absolute Truth. Man created religion. Not God. Jesus taught faith and forgiveness. Not doctrines. He was the rebel of His time and exposed the "religious" men of His time. And that came with a price.

I grew up Catholic. I had 1st Communion, was an alter boy and was confirmed in the Catholic Church. I've even been to Lourdes, France and drank of the Holy Water and went to a Catholic College. I have no regrets. Sure I have differences with the doctrine and the all the rules. I am a believer and I'm active in church, giving and trying to live a Christ-like life. And yes I fail daily. But I get up, ask forgiveness and move forward.

I have many friends that are Catholics and live spirit-filled lives. They are incredible testaments. However, my walk away from the Catholic Church began when I started to question the belief in "works" and the strong focus on the Holy Mother. Forgiveness and salvation comes through faith, acceptance and forgiveness. Its that simple. No additional price needs to be paid. Jesus paid the price on the cross. But faith, acceptance and asking for forgiveness is a price few are willing to pay regardless of their religion. Praying to Mary is something that I found not to be Biblical. The Catholic Church sees it differently. But that's my belief.

I am not a "recovering Catholic." Never was. To say something like that I see as an act of ignorance and insulting to others. It is not my place to judge the religion regardless of my questioning. I just came to believe differently and my faith journey has taken me on a different path.

After all, I don't think Heaven is filled with just Catholics, or Lutherans or just Methodists. Nope. I believe Heaven is filled with the souls of those that dared to accept and were reborn in Him.

Good blog,

Steve

Cmom said...

I gotta disagree with you Steve. Jesus did start the Catholic Church. He made Peter one of the apostles the first pope by stating "upon this rock I will build my church." All Christian religions have sprung from the original Catholic Church.

Cmom said...

Also...we do not pray to Mary, we ask Mary to pray for us. We ask Mary to intercede to her son for us but we NEVER pray to Mary or any other individual but God. We ask for Mary's intercession because next God Himself no other human was closer to Jesus than His mother.

Cmom said...

Oh and thank you Steve. :)

Anonymous said...

Lisa,

"Upon this rock I will build my church" and "upon this rock I will build my Catholic church" are 2 very different things. The "Rock" refers to faith in Him. The Rock is not a religion, a doctrine, or an attendance requirement for Mass.

We have gotten into a faith and religion debate. God created Faith. Man created religion. Peter was the first Pope. But the doctrine that followed was created by man. Did Peter pen the word Catholic? From my readings, Peter asked others to follow in faith. Not to follow in a religion for which he founded. And with that said, my savior was Jewish. Not Catholic. Sarcastically, Catholics do not have exclusive rights because they were first. So nannie, nannie boo boo on you.

Catholic is a synonym for all christian beliefs. And Christ taught us to pray to Him. And He also said that church is were 2 or more are gathered in His name. This could be anywhere. Again, a religion or doctrine is not needed. And granted Mary was chosen by God and was pure in His sight. But Biblically, the need for a prayer intercessor is never written in the Bible. Why would we need to pray to Mary. Is God too busy? Never. I wish no disrespect towards Mary.

We could continue to disagree until we are called home and would continue the debate on the way to Heaven. But we would never disagree on doing right by our fellow man.

Steve

Cmom said...

Steve...Peter was the first Catholic pope hand picked by Jesus Himself. You do the math. The Catholic church was the first Christian Church...you do the math. Jesus was a Jew but hand picked the pope for the first Christian church thus kick starting Christianity...again...you do the math. Misperception or misinformation has run rampant about and even with Catholics for years. It is nothing new. I have been accused of worshiping statues, praying to saints and Mary instead of Jesus/God and the whole nine yards. You can't throw anything at me that I haven't heard. The fact is...no true Catholic worships anyone but Our Lord. We have great reverence and respect for Mary because God Himself did. He chose her out of anyone else in the world to give birth to and be mother to His son. If God gave her such reverence and honor then we too should give her reverence and honor. The bottom line where the Catholic church, saints, miracles and apparitions such as Lourdes, Guadalupe, etc have occurred is: For those that truly believe...no explanation is necessary. For those that do not...no explanation is possible.

Cmom said...

Thank you Steve for bringing these things up and out. I am sure you are not the only one who believes what you do about the Catholic church. It is only through respectful dialogue and debate that education can occur. I do truly appreciate your comments.

A Roman Catholic said...

Cmom, I love what you just said. That is amazing and so true. Trying to explain to others what we as Catholics take on faith is like pounding your head against a brick wall. I don't know if I could have explained it as well as you did but I have to say I am impressed. You may never change Steve's minds or the minds of others like him but you are not here to convert just educate. I hope that you find your way back on the track soon but I am not worried after reading all of this, you seem to have your spirituality as well as your religion pretty well in tact.

Anonymous said...

Can't say that I am very religious but I do like to learn. This blog has been very interesting from the blog itself to your final comment above. Great blog and great comments.

Anonymous said...

Steve Cmom is right. If you left the church over "praying" to Mary then you left under an erroneous belief. You may have received all of those sacraments as a Catholic but you surely did not get a good Catholic education if you were taught or left to believe that as Catholics we somehow focused more on Mary than on her Son. As Cmom pointed out, Catholics show reverence to Mary because God hand picked her. We do ask for her to intercede or pray for us. It is not unlike losing a parent and quietly asking them to be there with us and pray for us after their death. I think anyone that has lost someone they love hopes that they are up there close to God and watching over them. You certainly aren't worshiping them simply asking that they whisper a tiny prayer in God's ear for you, as they are much closer to Him than you are. As Cmom said perception and misinformation can be detrimental. With all this being said, God Bless you Steve and God Bless you too Cmom especially on this spiritual journey.

Anonymous said...

I don't usually comment on things but here I just had to. The following is the Hail Mary, a prayer said by Catholics. "Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death."
This prayer is not "to worship" Mary, it honors Mary "the mother of Our Lord." If we are brought up right we honor and respect our mothers and Jesus was no different. Do you think that He would not expect us to honor her? The prayer honors her as His mother and asks that she "pray" for us much like you would ask a church prayer group or FaceBook friend to do (neither might I add do we worship). I am sure that in heaven just as on earth Mary has both Jesus ear and His heart and He still listens to her requests. Great blog Cmom. You are fast becoming one of my favorite bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. Did I accidentally declare war on the Catholic Church?

I have no unsolved issues with the Catholic Church or a need to get even. For me Biblically, the doctrines of the Catholic Church didn't add up. I simply pick the cross before the reverent Mother. (No disrespect intended) I look up to an empty cross because He is Risen. Does the sign of the cross before a prayer make a prayer better said, or better heard? Do I need a priest to confess my sins? And why do I need to light a candle? Why do I need a rosary or have to say the Act of Contrition so many times to be forgiven? Isn't forgiveness Absolute when its given?

And wasn't it Jesus who taught us to pray to "Our Father" when we pray? He didn't teach us to pray, "Our Mother". Again, I mean no disrespect to Mary. But as a child and young adult when I asked these questions I got some stern looks and harsh language coming from both Priests and Nuns couldn't believe someone dared to ask such a question in church. One even cussed at me when I was in high school. Those that know me would understand I could test the resolve of a quiet nun. :)

And because I choose to believe Biblical teachings over Catholic doctrine I'm an erroneous believer? Yes. That was written in a response. WOW. And the statement "perception and misinformation can be detrimental". What does this mean? Does it mean that because I am no longer a Catholic I never got it and will never get it? Does it mean that my salvation is in jeopardy? Or the salvation of others won't happen because I speak from the Bible and not Catholic doctrine? Whoa.

Do Catholics have imminent domain on the New Testament? I doubt it. I'm sorry. Peter was a teacher on FAITH. Not religion. Not Doctrine. Open your Bibles. Read your new Testament and then do your math. All puns intended. He taught us to have a relationship with Christ. He never said, "you're doing it wrong because you're not Catholic."

I'm sorry, but Catholics do not hold imminent domain with God because they were first. Or do they? And no, I did not leave the church over praying to Mary. In the Bible it never says pray to Mary, or ask Mary to pray for you. Most of my family is already in Heaven. Sure I speak to them. But I don't pray to them or ask them to pass along a message to God. But I respect Mary for who she was while she was here among us. I left the Catholism because of the doctrine and the over-reliance on ceremony and belief in acts. It just wasn't right for me. I pick FAITH over religion. Its pretty simple. And no disrespect to Catholics is intended.

To be Christ-like doesn't require a specific Christian religion or receiving of the Sacrament at every Mass. NO. It only takes a leap of faith, an asking for forgiveness and acceptance of HIS word. It may sound simply, but its not. Its takes boldness to hit your knees and pray. I pick myself up everyday and carry my cross like many. And I take my beatings along the way. It doesn't make me better than anyone else, or even special. It just makes me a follower.

But also remember, Jesus wasn't afraid to flip some tables in front of church and ask hard questions of the religious leaders when it was needed. I'm certainly not afraid to ask hard questions either. Flipping tables at church? Now that's just plain cool. Some churches need it today. I also feel too many of us are afraid to ask the hard questions and instead just go along with the flow out of fear. I believe Jesus wants us to ask "WHY?" Too many didn't say a word and watched as He was crucified. I'd like to think I'm one that would have took a stand against the Romans. I've faced men carrying guns when it meant standing up for what's right. Those same men ending up shaking my hand before it was over. I'd like to think that Jesus was there with me. Even though I'm not a Catholic anymore.

Steve

Cmom said...

Steve...I don't think anyone called your salvation into question nor hinted that because you believe differently that your soul is in danger. I think what people are trying to say is that to those who are Catholic, the prayers, the reverence to Mary, confession and the rosary are important. They are part of what keeps us grounded in our belief and to hear them misunderstood can be both frustrating and hurtful. While I can't speak for others...prayers such as the rosary are never far from my lips and I have every faith that with every rosary I say for every intention I say it for....God hears every Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be and trust me....He has heard a lot from me. That is not to say that my rosary trumps your way of praying or the words you use...it simply means the way I pray makes me feel closer to God and honestly...regardless of how we choose to pray...isn't that our ultimate goal? When I know someone needs a special prayer...I do light a candle. Does the candle mean my prayer for that person will be heard above the others? No...it just means that it is a tradition in the history of my church which again makes me feel closer to God and my faith. When I light a candle...I also say a silent prayer for the special intentions of all the other little candles burning brightly. It helps me to remember that for every candle lit is someone in need of a special prayer.
I don't believe that anyone was trying to make it sound as if Catholics were a superior religion, it was more that people just want non-Catholics to have a better understanding of how and why we do things. You can't make an educated decision on anything without the education.
As I have said many times...I don't feel that being Christlike or spiritual are mutually exclusive to religion. I have known many people who were wonderfully spiritual and Christlike and they never stepped into a church. Just as I have known others who would never miss a Sunday and the other six days of the week they acted anything but Christlike. However...there are those like myself who for the most part feel great peace within the walls of the church. There is great comfort knowing the strength and power of faith of all those Catholics who have gone before me. Being a Catholic is very special for me and from it has come my faith and also my ability to question, to seek out information, to occasionally stray but to ultimately come back to the place that my heart and soul call home.
No religion is perfect because as said before...most things touched by man take a decided turn towards imperfection. Perhaps I will die someday and find that being a Catholic and trying to live my life as close to the teachings of the church as possible made little difference in the end. On the other hand...maybe I will die and find out that being a Catholic was every bit as important as I thought it was and because of it and what the church taught me along life's road....my soul was ultimately saved.
Whatever the case...I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read today's blog, think about today's blog and comment on today's blog. I appreciate the respect shown for my blog and for each other and I am grateful to have such wonderful readers. Thank you all very much!

Michael Sestak said...

Life is hard at times.

It's important to remember that during the dark night of the soul, God is closer than ever.

I was once told that God does not count how many times we fall, but how many times we get back up.

Courage.