Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Religion: Why I am confused.

I was raised devoutly Catholic.  Never missed mass.  On blizzardly Sabbaths/Days of Holy Obligation, we had to watch mass on TV and respond out loud to the priest (it happened once or twice tops).  I went to Catholic school for 9 years until their music program no longer offered to me what I wanted and my mom agreed to let me go to public high school.  I was an active music minister in the church until I was 29 or so.

I am glad I went to Catholic school and even gladder I had this upbringing.  It gave me an edge in music school (no joke, especially when studying sacred and early music), gave me cultural depth and beauty of tradition on holidays, and showed me the importance of having spirituality in one's life.

But here's why I'm confused:

  • I believe priests should be allowed to marry.
  • Furthermore, I believe women should be priests.
  • I believe in gay marriage.  Vehemently.  Especially when I see so many beautiful gay couples and so many awful heterosexual ones.  God is love, and whosoever lives in love lives in God.
  • I believe that there should be no law against abortion, even though I personally would never have one.
  • I practice hormonal birth control, and I believe that it is a greater respect to the dignity of life to practice it than for me to have a kid who would have birth defects from the antidepressants I take to keep myself from committing suicide.
  • I entirely dislike the church's stance on multiple political and personal beliefs: birth control, abortion, abstinence before marriage, gay marriage, priests' lifestyles (the vow of chastity), women as priests, etc.  Furthermore, the church telling me who to vote for does not have a place in my life, and I will probably vote opposite whoever they endorse on purpose.
  • I don't believe in transubstantiation.  I believe in Real Presence.  (I.e. God is present in the host, but the host is not God himself.)
  • I don't believe that the sacrament of Confession actually absolves you from your sins.  I believe that can only be done through your own genuine repentance and effort to never commit that sin again.
  • I don't really think there is a place for me to sit in the church if I'm sitting there resenting everything.  If anything, I think my presence is damaging, even though God is supposed to accept us and welcome us at our darkest moments.  This is a very confusing point of contention in my heart.
  • I don't believe that giving up something trivial like chocolate is the best way to make yourself closer to God during Lent.  Do something significant instead, like REAL self-improvement.  God wants you to have the chocolate once in a while.  For realz.  Especially if you thank Him for it.
  • I do not believe in tithing in the 10% of your salary sense.  Offer up a gift to God that is unique, be it through ministry or outreach.  (I was a music minister who, if you add up the time I could have been paid to do that, would equal more than I make per year now.  They never think of that when they never see an envelope from me in the collection basket.)
  • This is trivial, but I don't feel it's quite correct to have people's names on the collection envelopes.
  • I lived with my husband before marriage, on purpose.  So did everyone in my Pre-Cana class, and no one batted an eye.
All in all, I am not a practicing Catholic.  Here are the things that are part of the Catholic church I do believe:
  • If you have a grave sin on your heart, you should not receive communion until you have made peace with that sin.  However, I don't believe the sacrament of Confession does that.  See above.
  • You should always make yourself as ready as possible to receive God (spiritually) before you go to church.  I still don't believe that we "eat Jesus."
  • Full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy is the only way to go.  Sitting there like a deadbeat doesn't do it for me.
  • The reminder of our mortality on Ash Wednesday has always been beautiful to me.

I still don't know what to think.  But my mom is pushing me to go to church.  She probably thinks it would be good for me, but I feel strongly that if I can find a church/spiritual center that jives more with my beliefs, I'd feel better.  I"m thinking Episcopal.  I've thought Episcopal for a long time, especially since I attended an Episcopal church in Philly that really did it for me, even though I was told they were very "high" and atypical.

I am closing this post to comments because I know it will bring on too many "YOU'RE GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL" dialogue that frankly I can't deal with.  But I had to get this all off my chest.