This post will probably be a stream-of-conscious rambling and full of typos because I’m typing this on my phone. Bear with me. I hope this is short because I haven’t adjusted to the size of the iPhone 6 so my fingers keep slipping. (Not plus size; just regular size.)
Anyway, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been attending a local Roman Catholic Church. In a lot of ways, it feels like a homecoming and in other ways it’s changed. I still remember the sign of the cross, many of the congregational responses (although some have changed and one deleted), and when to sit, stand, and kneel (for the most part). I enjoy the 20-minute homily (mainly for the brevity), the availability of hymnals, and the fact that I can (again, for the most part) enter and exit the church unnoticed.
But there’s so much I disagree with now that I’ve been away from Roman Catholicism. After having been Protestant for as many years as I was Catholic, the following are my gripes:
- Transubstantiation. This is a big one for me. I don’t believe that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus. I believe they are symbols that represent his body and blood.
- The Catholic Church being considered the “true” church. I get the sense (from this Sunday’s homily) that anyone outside of the Catholic Church is “outside the fold.” I don’t know if that means lack of salvation but I bristle when I think that there’s only one “true church,” ie, denomination.
- Mary. I’ve been hearing from Catholics lately that Mary is not worshipped but merely revered as the mother of God. Unless the position on Mary has changed within the past 16 years (and I don’t think so), I’m pretty sure Mary is worshipped to be almost if not practically on par with Jesus’ holiness. My entire schooling was in Catholic institutions and I firmly believe that Mary is held to a higher standard than a saint like, oh, John, Paul, Ringo, or George. (Whoops. Well, I got 2 out of 4.)
- Kneeling before statues. I’m no longer comfortable with this. I’ve read through Genesis and Exodus a few times enough to know that God doesn’t seem to be a fan of “idols” or bowing down before man-made images.
I guess those are a few of the things that hold me back from Catholicism. (Although I must admit, it really pissed me off on Sunday to see how many people accepted the host and then bypassed the cup [er, chalice as they call it now]. Partake in the Eucharist in its entirety or don’t partake at all. Yes, I’ll admit: It’s gross to drink from the same cup as other people [backwash and all that] but if it’s holy, then it’s purified, right?)
Like I said before, I’ve been Protestant about as long as I was Catholic. (I was essentially a Protestant for 2 years while finishing up high school.) I gravitate toward Protestant beliefs. Much of it makes sense to me. I think Martin Luther (of the Reformation) was a badass. I’ve enjoyed the emphasis on worshipping Jesus alone. It was refreshing to hear a different perspective on salvation: grace by faith alone. (Catholics believe in grace plus good works—something I now battle with based on my interpretation of passages from the Book of James.) I’ve learned so much more about the Bible, especially the Old Testament, in Protestant churches.
But I’ve become disenchanted with many Protestant churches. In an effort to try to shift away from Catholic traditions, some have abandoned liturgies from their services. Sure, the service tends to be somewhat structured, but it lacks that liturgical feel that the Catholic Church provides.
Call me old fashioned, but I am dismayed at the growing trend of using PowerPoints (or nothing at all) for worship music. I’ve never understood how anyone is supposed to know or be able to sing any of these new worship songs without sheet music. Unless you listen to Christian music religiously, which I suppose is the assumption, there’s no way to know the music being sung in church. In the Catholic Church, a cantor sings the chorus for the entire church then encourages everyone to sing the chorus with him or her, thus introducing the melody. The cantor usually sings the verses alone when the song is not in the hymnal.
Then there’s my biggest beef with Protestants: the hour-long sermons. Perhaps in the days of Jonathan Edwards when he preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” people were much more attentive and receptive to a lengthy sermon. These days, we in America have short attention spans. Long sermons bore us to tears even if you are an entertaining, charismatic speaker. There’s only so long you can hold your audience’s attention before it drops off. (Speaking of that, kudos to you if you’ve made it this far. And yes, I’m still typing on my phone. Ow.)
Protestant (excluding non-denominational churches) tend to be on the smaller side (unlike 200+ people in a Catholic Church) providing the opportunity for it to become a place where “everybody knows your name.” I’m at a point in my life where I want to be invisible. I want to go to church, worship God, and then leave with minimal to no interruption. I go to the Catholic Church in the same community where I worked at a local library so running into my former coworkers occasionally is to be expected. But for the most part, the church is so big, I can dodge them if needed.
Regarding childcare, Protestants win over Catholics in my estimation. Protestants usually have a nursery or some form or childcare or Sunday School for young children. Catholics tend to deal with their screaming babies during Mass. Some Catholic Churches have partitioned a room in the back of the church with speakers and a glass panel to accommodate people with special needs, such as moms with babies, the elderly, and the physically handicapped. But it’s hard for many Catholic Churches to retrofit this.
I guess that’s my 2 cents on my faith. I’m stuck in limbo. I probably won’t return to the Catholic Church as a member (technically I’m still a member of a church on Long Island, NY) but I don’t know if I can handle one more 7-11 praise song at a Protestant church. (Sing 7 words 11 times.) I recognize no church is perfect, but at this point, which church’s shortcomings am I able to tolerate?
I’m having a crisis of faith right now. I believe in God and I believe in Jesus. I just… don’t believe in all the stuff that comes with Christianity. I don’t want to do the stuff that comes with Christianity, such as:
- Attending church
- Praying regularly
- Reading the Bible
Church often feels like a social gathering—a way to meet new people. I love my church. If I could pick any church to attend, it’d be the church I’m a member of. So why do I choose sleep over worshiping God on Sunday mornings?
I have nothing to write about really. I’m reading a book, Writing Down Your Soul, and it’s fascinating to me so far. I’m not very far in the book, but the author talks about listening to the Voice from within (yourself) and from without (God). It’s a very spiritual book so atheists wouldn’t like it, but it’s not directly Christian so fundamentalists wouldn’t like it. But I am neither. I am a middle-of-the-road Christian who accepts that the universe does stuff with a lowercase u, and recognizes that God is behind everything with a capital G. I don’t ever plan on being a pastor so I’m okay with my slightly unscriptural stance.
I am at my proofreading job right now. There’s a lot of talk and speculation that I’ll be brought on as a permanent part-time employee, but as of right now, I haven’t gotten complete confirmation. I have a cube, a computer, and my own extension, things which are nice. The office manager has been a real sweetheart and she really likes me so she’s helped me to get set up very well. I appreciate her going out of her way to make me feel like I’m part of the team, something that I’ve felt on the outs for quite a while now.
I’m always afraid that I am doing a poor proofreading job. It’s a constant fear I have because I struggle with perfectionism. I know no one can be perfect and I also know that I should take the fact that the company keeps bringing me in as a sign that I’m doing a good job, but my job centers around the fact that I’m meant to primarily minimize mistakes and I fear that I’m not minimizing them to the extent that other people would like. (I just heard my name from someone so I popped my head up, doing the “gopher” thing that people in cubicles do.) I later learned that indeed it was a mistake that I made, and I am better off never ASSuming but always querying something I’m not sure of.
I’m in a weird spiritual place right now. I’m not anti-God or even angry with Him. I just am. I just exist. But somehow He and I have a disconnect. I know God doesn’t want someone who is lukewarm and I am so lukewarm right now.
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. —Revelation 3:15-17
I have the potential opportunity to work 3 jobs. Yes, THREE. I feel fortunate to be able to have work coming in this tough economy. But yes, I work as a freelance editor and proofreader for advertising agencies. That’s my niche; that’s my specialty. I accept it and embrace it. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you might have noticed mistakes, errors, misspellings, typos. I really don’t edit my posts on this blog much, especially since I put most of my effort into my day job. On my professional blog (which I haven’t written for in quite a while), I double-check and triple-check my work before hitting the Publish button. But I allow myself this place—this space—to be imperfect and make mistakes since I feel the need to be at the top of my game in other areas.
I’ve been going through an incredibly difficult time on a personal level and have been really struggling in my faith. I often function based on feelings (yeah, yeah, I know, feelings aren’t reliable) and lately I’ve had the need to feel that God loves me. And I’m constantly met with… silence. Read more…
My friend’s father died on Friday, prompting a whirlwind weekend of funeral services and grieving during the Memorial Day weekend. The family is Catholic and my friend’s father partook of his last sacraments before he became too incapacitated.
I sat through two mini-Catholic services, the first a brief eulogy for my friend’s father who we’ll refer to as Mr. W, and the second a shortened version of a Mass with an emphasis on praying for Mr. W’s soul.
Had this happened 10 or even 5 years ago, I would have been indignant at the Catholic church, ranting and raving at all the things they do wrong as indoctrinated by my years of Christian Baptist fundamentalism. I would have rolled my eyes at the pointless sign of the cross and the dumb responses to the priest after a statement. My heart would have been angry at the Whore of Babylon for leading people astray and I would have not been able to grieve the loss of a dear father and husband who was beloved by many.
But no, this weekend, my heart was quiet before the Lord in reverence to my friend, her family, and the passing of her father. I actually rather enjoyed the first Catholic eulogy and Father T who performed it did an excellent job. I thought to myself, Wow. What a difference a decade makes. I don’t hate Catholicism anymore.
I had no opposition to performing the sign of the cross to open and close the service. (Scripture doesn’t expressly forbid such actions so I no longer take issue with it.) I was surprised at how easily the congregational responses came back to me after years of not attending a Mass or Catholic school. Glimmers of lyrics from many of the spiritual songs shimmered in my mind from my childhood as we sang. We recited the “Our Father” without that ending that I’ve become accustomed to since leaving Catholicism (“For Thine is the kingdom…”). The Catholic Church has changed slightly but not too much. (They’ll be changing the congregational response from “also with you” to “with your spirit.” Ghastly! /sarcasm)
At the second service, I realized while I’m no longer angry or opposed to the Catholic Church, it will never be the church for me again. I do not agree with praying for the souls of the dead as I can’t find Biblical justification for it. I can’t in good Biblical conscience recite the “Hail Mary” any longer. However, instead of ranting and raving against the Catholic Church for unbiblical practices (as I would have in the past), I took the time to still my heart before God and prayed for the family grieving the loss of Mr. W. I prayed for the light of the gospel to shine in their lives, hoping that even through the Catholic Church, they could find salvation and trust in Jesus Christ.
The father at the second service encouraged everyone present to pray for Mr. W’s soul every time they thought of him or his family. I will not begrudge my friend and her mother their novena, but I will continue to lift them up in prayer to the glory of God the Father.