I met a friend of mine for lunch last week. He used to be a priest. In fact, he's the priest that married us and he was the priest at the Newman Center when I was in college. He left the priesthood many years ago, but he'll always be Fr. Greg to me, and he's still the one I think of when I need spiritual counseling. Like now. I haven't been going to church. Like, for a LONG time. I don't really miss the "church" part of it, but I feel like I'm missing the "connection" part of it, and I don't know where to go or what to do.
I was raised Catholic. And I'm sure I'll always be Catholic. But there are a lot of things about the Catholic Church that I question. So that makes me wonder if I'm a TRUE Catholic. And they're not little things either. Some of them are HUGE discrepancies. For example? I don't believe in Penance. I know, weird huh? That's kind of one of the fundamentals of Catholicism. But nope. Don't believe in it. Don't like it. Don't relate to it. Never really have. In my opinion, if I want to confess, I can just go straight to the source. You know, God. The MAIN man! :)
When I was in High School we used to go on retreats every year at one of the local Seminaries. During the retreat we would go to the chapel for Penance. So my Freshman year I'm supposed to go in there and do something that I don't believe in. I remember walking up to the priest and telling him that I have a REALLY hard time with Penance. NOT because I don't do anything wrong. NOT because I don't trust him or the other priests. NOT because I'm perfect and have nothing to confess. But because I just don't believe in it. Like FUNDAMENTALLY don't believe in it. I just don't. Never have, never will. So I told him that. And he was GREAT! He said, 'well then how about if we just talk?' So that's what we did. We talked about school, retreat, things like that. And every year after that, for the next 3 years, I would go up and talk to the same priest. And that's what we'd do. We'd talk. He never made me feel like I was a bad person for not agreeing with Penance. He never tried to talk me into changing my opinion. He never judged me for feeling the way I feel. He just talked to me, and let me talk to him. So basically, I haven't been to Penance since I was in the 8th grade. Growing up in Catholic Schools we used to go a few times a year. I remember sitting there making up things to tell the priest. Did I mention, I have a HUGE problem with Penance. And it's not like it's something that just happened. I've had a problem with it since I was about 12 years old.
Again, BIG part of the Catholic Faith. And I don't believe in it. So does that mean I'm not really Catholic? Does that mean I SHOULDN'T be Catholic? That I don't DESERVE to be Catholic? WHAT does it mean? I don't know. So I went to someone I trust to get some advice and some direction. Someone that I knew wouldn't try to influence me one way or the other. Someone that would listen to me talk and give me some advice on what to do next. Like I said before, I've always been Catholic, and I'm sure I'll always BE Catholic. But maybe questioning my religion isn't a BAD thing. Maybe during all of this questioning it will strengthen my faith and my religion. And then again, maybe it won't. Maybe I'll decide that while I still have my faith, and I'll always have my faith, maybe it's my RELIGION that I need to change. Like I said, I don't know WHAT I need, but I know I need something.
So we talked about the different steps to take and where to begin. For one thing, I don't really like the church I'm currently in. I feel very out of place there. My thing is that I'm very middle class. I've always BEEN middle class. I'll always BE middle class. And I'm okay with that. But the problem is, most of the people at my current church are NOT middle class. They're mostly Upper Class, or Upper Upper Class. So I feel very uncomfortable there. Like I'm not wearing the right shoes, or the right clothes, or I'm not good enough because my kids aren't in school there. It's hard to pay attention during mass when I'm feeling uncomfortable the whole time I'm there. So the first step we decided I need to take is to try a different church. There is a church, fairly close to me, called Epiphany. Epiphany is an all glass church in the woods. So while you're in church, you are experiencing the outdoors. It's a BEAUTIFUL place. And very comforting. Also, as I said before, some of my views are very different from the typical Catholic Church. And according to some friends of mine, Epiphany is a more liberal version of most of the Catholic Churches. So maybe it'll be better for me. Who knows. But I know before I start looking at OTHER religions, I need to exhaust every possible measure to find something for me in MY religion. So that's where I'm starting. I hope to go there this weekend. Wish me luck. I think I'm going to need it. What about you? Have you ever questioned your religion? If so, what was the outcome? Do you think I should do something different than what my current plan is? What did YOU do?