I remember years ago going on radio and elsewhere arguing with others that they shouldn’t leave the Catholic Church over the actions and nastiness of a few clergy and laity. I still think my argument retains it’s validity however lately I’ve had a hard time swallowing my very own pill.
I just can’t seem to integrate into any parish at all. I can’t seem to like any of the priests, the people they hire or some of the laity. In the beginning I noticed that when I was single, my prayer life was stronger and as a result taking insults and enduring the worst of Catholic priests and theologians was easy. When I got married however, my prayer life decreased and as a result I reverted much to my worldly ways.
Even though my intellect still retained the idea that we shouldn’t allow the nasty actions of some to determine the church we attend, it was impossible to think this way. I snapped one day when I emailed or called the local priest about baptizing my first born Christian. He gave me a number to call and every day I called it but it just rang out. No mobile phone number no nothing. I became frustrated and so I called up Fr.Serge from the Greek Catholic church and he agreed to baptize them.
Those of us who leave the church or avoid it based on a bad experience is to be understood simply from the perspective that we’ve been brought up in a society that makes decision based on our emotions rather than eternal truths. For example abortions often occur because of anxiety, fear and pressure rather than the eternal truth that this is an innocent human life. Getting rid of this conditioning is not the answer understanding it for it’s true worth is better.
As I said earlier about understanding that leaving the church based on my emotions isn’t good yet everyday I suffer a deluge of attacks and temptations to indulge in those emotions and walk out the door. I almost did, I began attending the Orthodox Church for a while and even came out on this blog and spoke about my apparent conversion to the Orthodox church.
Isn’t that strange? What, you mean you know that it’s wrong to leave the church because of how others treat you yet….you want to leave the church because of the way others treat you? My answer is yes as St.Paul said himself he often knows its wrong but still finds himself doing it. It’s the human condition and living with it isn’t easy.
When we leave a church it’s often because the actions of a few have really hurt us. We tend to go where we feel loved because the world told us that we need to feel loved in order to be happy even though that’s nonsense. It’s important to love others not be loved by them. When we are not being loved and accepted by others there is nothing but unrest and anxiety.
It seems like an impossible task and it kind of is which is why at least understanding that the need to be loved by others is ridiculous is better than total blindness to it altogether.
It’s not fair to lay all the blame on the people though. When dealing with worldly people who are still fragile in the faith and don’t really have a grasp of the eternal truths I have to show the utmost compassion to them. They’re victims but they’re salvation isn’t determined whether they get the spiritual life or not either. The decisions we make and how we treat others will not go unpunished by the Lord unless we repent of them.
As Catholics we have to be careful about how we treat the person who knocks on our door. This person might be considering the Catholic church or looking for some comfort. He may have a disability we don’t know about and have suicidal thoughts and when he knocks on the door of a Catholic Church perhaps just as someone looking for a few pound or other and we are nasty to him, that can have an effect on him.
He won’t show it to you but he’ll walk away and it will add to the stress of his day. It could be his tipping point never to darken the doorstep of a church again and whose soul do you think will be set on fire for such an outcome…his? not at all.
If you’re a person who has been considering leaving the Catholic church because of a bad experience you’ve had, welcome to the club because everyday I wake up and think it’s a miracle I’m still here.
I don’t like Catholics at all, I’ve been to youth 2000 retreats, sat with clergy, went to bible groups, rosary groups but I just can’t deal with these people and I get much better treatment and conversations from atheists, secularists, agnostics, prostitutes, drug dealers and petty thieves.
This is why I distanced myself as of late from the church. Over the past 8 years I’ve built for myself my own spirituality that is still in full compliance with the church. I go to mass every Sunday even though it’s a chore and I don’t enjoy it because of what it’s become. I have my icon wall at home which I sit in front of and the saints keep me company especially Saint Mary and Saint Paul. I pray daily and have my own devotions.
I go to confession once a week and have become immune now to ”it’s not a sin my child” and ”here’s a link to meditations by richard rohr” and I just endure it to get the benefit of the Sacrament. I’ve already broken my hand writing letters to bishops of complaint and not receiving replies to the point where I just say ”It’s your hands now Lord, I’ve done my bit and sure we all know the end of the story…you win”.
Whenever someone knocks on my door with an invitation to go to church meeting or retreat, my answer is always a resounding no. I could honestly do without that headache.
If ever you do see me at one you know my wife has dragged me kicking and screaming.
So if you think you’re having a hard time staying put in the Catholic Church come on around to my house and have a chat with me. Why do I stay? because I’m very difficult person to get rid of which is why I’m such a successful sales man hahahaha. I’m extremely loyal person too. When my girlfriends mother in Scotland told me I had to leave her house, she thought I’d go home to Ireland and leave her pregnant daughter and they’d be in peace and so she could get her to have an abortion because I was standing in the way of all of that.
One day I walked past her with a tent under my arm and she was speaking with the local vicar. Her face went red as a cherry when she asked ”and where are you going?” ”I’m going to pitch this tent in the wilderness some miles outside the village and I will walk 8 miles into work every day.” She was so ashamed and she pleaded with me to at least rent a room from her posh friend but I refused for months.
People came to dissuade me from living in a tent and that the harsh winter would come and flush me out of it. But I didn’t move. eventually I came back to the village though.
So once I pitch my tent I’m not easily moved and I’ve pitched a tent in the Catholic Church and even though I don’t mingle with Catholics I stay for Christ sake and because my conscience just wont allow me to go anywhere else just now. Jesus said those who endure to the end will be saved and I intend on doing just that.