Monday, June 24, 2013

Questioning Faith

“If you don't behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave.”
Fulton J. Sheen


If this is the truth... then I am in trouble. 

You see, I love my religious denomination. I love the fact that the Catholic Church is the very church that Jesus built his idea of Christianity upon. He looked to his best friend, Peter, and said, "Hey man.. I want you to build my church." Peter was like, "Cool, dude. Consider it done."

And so it began.

But here's the problem - real life makes it NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE to live up to the Church's idea of what it means to be in good standing with the "Church."

For one, I believe in birth control. I do. Even within a marriage, if you do not want children, I do not believe you should risk it and not use birth control. Add to that, I can't have kids.

Secondly, things happen. According to the Catholic Church, I am not in good standing for many reasons: I'm divorced. I do not go to mass each week. I don't go to confession (maybe 4 times in my WHOLE life.) 

Which leads to my issues: I want to go and participate fully in mass, but technically, I can't. I would be denied the Eucharist (what many of you might call "communion"),  all because I am divorced. That's right. I know I can go through an annulment, but do you know how difficult that would be? Not to mention, my husband was Muslim - he could care less about my religious beliefs. It also takes a really, really long time. 

I am missing something so incredibly important to me - and that's a religious social life. As a kid, I participated in Sunday School, Christmas plays, and Youth Group. As an adult, I was in the Ladies Axillary (of the Knights of Columbus,) member of a prayer group, and even a youth group leader. NOW... well.. now... I am lacking and the problem is - I can't get involved. Not at my home church. 

St. Joseph's is led by a very conservative Catholic priest by the name of Father MacDonald. He is by-the-book. Literally. In Birmingham, the two older Irish Catholic priests would serve communion to everyone, they did not care. Here, no way Jose. He will deny you. He will stop you from serving in any capacity. I'm stuck.

But I love the mass. I love the ceremony. I love the worshipping factor. When I rejoined the church, I had to send a picture. He knows who's who. (Even though there are over 5,000 people.) When you get involved, you have to say whether or not you are in good standing with the church- and know this the Church (Vatican) keeps amazing records. Everything from my Baptism to my confirmation to name changes... everything. 

Where does that leave me? Do I go to mass, to get my ceremony and fulfill my needs? Do I then get involved with another congregation and another (dare I say it - Protestant) church and participate in bible study and other activities I enjoy - but always remain a Catholic?

Decisions.. decisions.

3 comments:

Christina Mathis said...

Wow, this is tough! I like your idea of going to Mass but getting involved in another church's activities. Are there community religious activities you could participate in? I just discovered a weekly community Bible study that meets downtown once a week. Every lady there is from a different church and most are different denominations, but they are SO welcoming! Maybe Macon has something like that. Good luck!

Robyn Burke said...

I am not Catholic. I state that right up so that you know I don't fully understand what this means to those who are. But I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I know He loves me. Unconditionally. His mercies are new every morning... and his grace sustains me. And boy howdy do I need this! I am divorced, remarried and my list of naughty no-no's is long. But I stand before Christ as having no sin, forgiven, without having "gone to confession"-- the only confession I participate in is between me and God. It's amazing that I can come before Him without a priest to do that for me. I say all of this to now say, Jesus loves you just as you are Nicole and it is sad that the religion of the Catholic church can act in a way that would try and prevent you from your relationship with Christ. I would encourage you to find a (protestant) non-denominational church where you can worship freely and wholeheartedly. And perhaps you will find one that offers traditional worship that brings comfort such as you are seeking. I pray that will happen for you. :)

Jonathan Castellano said...

I am very grateful for the Catholic church for keeping alive the cristian faith. Respect its leader and members, in fact some of my very best friends and the very best people I know are catholics. But lets face the truth, Peter was dead for about 300 years before the Catholic church was organized and the first pope was chosen. That is hystory recorded in the books. Peter and the other apostles and disciples of Christ were all dead then.

Even if there are some issues in our lives, the same Christ said that we all could repent and move on. I really do believe that God loves us, not unconditionally as most people believe, the Bible is full of teachings about it. But everybody is able to repent and change, and if something I did can´t be corrected, that where the grace of Christ, through his atonement come and solve the problem, He paid for my mistakes.

I believe someone can go on, worship and have full participation in church activities even with all imperfections we all have. If some one has to be perfect to go to church this church will be very empty, becouse this world is full of imperfect people.

I am a LDS and you are invited to come to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and see for yourself that we fully believe in Jesus Christ our savior and redeemer, we follow His teachings and struggle to behave as He would if He was here. It is not easy but we try hard.

I really respect everyones beliefs and make this invitation with the best of my feeleings.

Thank for your patience.

Jonathan Castellano

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