April 2010. Easter. It was one of the most thrilling nights of my life up until that point. I had been preparing for almost a year (well, years, if you count all of the soul-searching and jokes.. more about that later). All within a matter of hours I was baptized, confirmed and took first holy communion. I was on the proverbial cloud nine. The Easter vigil mass was intense, with darkness and candles, trumpet blasts and rising lights at crucial moments. It was awe-inspiring and wonderful.
For the first few months I was a faithful Roman Catholic. I attended mass, I took holy communion, I went to confession on a weekly basis, I went to holy hour whenever I could.. I did everything a good Catholic was supposed to do. The masses were relaxing and comfortable. But I soon began to fall into “just a routine.” I began skipping mass, making excuses not to go.. basically becoming one of those “cafeteria catholics” people always talk about. I had become the thing I swore I never would. But before you go burning me at the stake, hear me out.
Why did I “fall”?
Well, there are a number of reasons, if I’m being honest. The biggest is that I just didn’t feel “at home” there. Sure, it met my need for “peace and quiet” but was that really what I needed? After all, I wasn’t really getting spiritually fed there, and that was a huge problem. Of course, there were also a number of doctrinal problems that I took issue with, like:
- The Virgin Mary as co-mediatrix/co-redemptrix (“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” ~1 Timothy 2:5)
- Mary as Queen of Heaven
- The rule that unless you were Catholic you cannot take communion
- The rule that you could not take communion unless you went to confession and confessed your sins before the priest
- Indulgences (the idea that you could obtain a “get out of jail (purgatory) free” card for doing certain acts)
- The idea that if you did not believe exactly what Rome said you had to believe, you were unworthy of calling yourself a Catholic, and would go straight to hell
The list goes on, of course, but you get the idea. As hard as I tried, I just could never bring myself to justify these beliefs, and I couldn’t bring myself to follow them. That made me a bad catholic. Well, ok then. If I’m a bad catholic, then what was I even doing there? Yes, I still crave the solitude, the peace, the somber atmosphere of the catholic mass, but if I can’t reconcile these things with my disbelief, should I really even be there? Finally I decided that, no, I shouldn’t. I found a new church home, one that is much more lively than the mass that I’m used to, but at the same time.. one that spiritually fills me. That’s something I was missing, and something that I needed.