Today is the third Sunday of Lent. Over the past three weeks, I have been to three different churches on a quest to find one that will teach me about the Bible, God’s word and most importantly, to help me to be a better person.
I was raised Catholic, but over the years, I have come to disagree with many of the church’s teachings. For example, I do not agree that the wafer and wine are actually the body and blood of Christ and turn into them because of the powers of the priest. I also do not believe that a priest can absolve me from my sins through confession. Yes, I confess my sins, but I go right to the big man. He is the only one who can forgive me in my mind. In addition, I have never felt comfortable with the elitism that is associated with Catholics – that only those who are Catholic can receive Communion. I stopped going to Catholic churches and tried a few other denominations of Christianity. I did not find any that I really liked, so I just stopped going. And kind of strayed away from religion.
I began praying less often, even though I still felt incredibly blessed. I was often so tired at night that I would start to pray and then fall asleep. Or, I would start saying the “Our Father” and a million other thoughts came into my mind distracting me. I would try and clear those thoughts out of my head and start over again and again. Yet, those other thoughts or sleep would always prevail and I would go to bed without thanking God for all He did for me that day.
A few months ago, I started watching “Duck Dynasty” and my interest in religion and God was reignited. I liked how none of the family members are cruel to each other, there is no drinking and sexual talk and that every episode ended with a prayer. It got me thinking that I needed to focus more on God.
For Lent this year, I decided to give up something, but to also read more about God and go to church every Sunday. I bought the Duck Dynasty Devotional book which gives a verse from the Bible, an explanation and a prayer each day. I have also gone to church every Sunday to try and find a religion and place to pray (even though I know God is everywhere).
The first Sunday, I went to a Born Again Christian church with my husband. The first 40 minutes was singing and greeting/talking to other people. The pastor finally read from the Bible and talked about Lent, but I honestly did not learn anything new. The whole way they did the service was very different from a Catholic church and hearing a loud band singing songs was a little too much for me at this point. However, I am willing to try another Christian church. My husband’s aunt and uncle are very active in their church and I love talking with them about their beliefs. Plus, they are wonderful people who are truly living their lives according to God’s word.
I went back to a Catholic church last Sunday(to give it one more chance) and listened to a priest saying that Jesus gave priests and bishops the power to forgive people for their sins. I still feel that only God can forgive you and wonder how a priest making you say 10 “Our Fathers” and 10 “Hail Mary’s” can absolve you over your sins. In fact, I am not even sure we are supposed to pray to Mary. So, that experience solidified the fact that I no longer consider myself a Catholic.
Today, I went to a Presbyterian church and really enjoyed it. Plus, I actually learned something! I went at 8:00 and was among only 7 other attendees. It was held in the church’s chapel and was slightly informal. They did have a later service which the reverend said always has more people. I ended up speaking with the reverend after the service. He asked what brought me to the church and I told him that I was raised Catholic, but had a lot of disagreements with the church. He said that I was one of many “recovering Catholics” that have switched to a different denomination of Christianity. (I also heard that from the pastor at the Christian church I attended.) It makes me wonder – why are there so many “recovering Catholics” and what does that mean? What is the church trying to do to keep people there? One thing I do not want to be is a hypocrite, so I will not be going back to a Catholic church, but I do wonder – am I a recovering Catholic or just an enlightened one?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you a recovering Catholic? A devoted Catholic? An enlightened one?