Why I stay

Something I've been thinking about lately is what keeps me in the Catholic church. If you've been reading the news any time in the last couple of years, there's so much negative stuff going on. Sex abuse scandals. Money scandals. Shortage of priests. All kinds of stuff.

There have been more things more personal to me going on. I know plenty of people on the "inside" at my church. Meaning they're privy to all of the "politics" that goes on. There's the the ever increasing demand for money from the diosese. For example, we just started our Catholic Ministries Appeal. It is supposed to be an "appeal" for people to donate to this cause. However, here's how it really works. Our parish has a goal of about $120,000 to raise for the appeal. If we don't raise it in donations, it comes out of the parish budget. Meaning our parish has to pay $120,000 to the diocese for this effort no matter what we do. Every year.

And, being Catholics, we're all about "the rules". For example, we have new "rules" about how we're supposed to do the Mass, what the congregation is to respond, etc that go into effect next year. Some of them are just plain stupid and make no sense. For example, right now when the priest says "The Lord be with you" we respond "and also with you". Very simple exchange right? Our new response will be "And with your spirit". WTF is that supposed to mean?

Lately I feel like the Church is getting more like the Pharasees. We're so concerned with the "rules", we're losing sight of what it's all about, Jesus. I've had to endure people saying there's no room in church for a Christian rock band. I've had people criticize me for how I move when I play in church or that I get too close to the microphone and it looks "obscene" (that's no lie). I've seen the petty politics of people staking out their own little "kingdom" in the parish. I've heard people say we can't do things because of some arcane rule or argue that "should" means you have to do something versus you can do it if you want.

So why not join some other church? There's a place just down the road from us that's non-denominational that's packing people in, worship with a band similar to mine, and seems very spiritual. I heard the did a collection, put the basket at the front of the church and told anyone who needed money to take just what they need. Crazy, huh?

I stay because the Catholic church has the one thing no one else does: the Sacrements. Catholics believe something very unique. That when we take Communion, it's not a symbol of the Body of Christ, but the physical Body of Christ. It's called Transsubstantiation. Where else can I go to have Christ truly inside me? Basically nowhere.

Mind you, I've always felt you can't fix something from the outside, so if my Church is worth fixing the only way to do it is be part of the change. Which I try to do in my own small way. But it's hard sometimes.


Jude said…
If that's reason enough for you to stay, then you'll only be comfortable by staying Vince. Going with the flow is sometimes hard to do, but if you can let go of what you aren't particularly partial to and keep close to your heart what makes you feel good, then you've probably done right by your own spirit.

As for the rock band naysayers, play your heart out and do what you do best anyway!
JJ said…
I understand about your desire to have the body of Christ inside you. But, for you, isn't He already? Isn't He, for instance, in your heart and part of your spirit? Why do you need the physical manifestation of Him?

There's a church that I started to attend when TheMan and I were giving our marriage a second try. It's basically non-denominational, but they do communion every Sunday. Doesn't matter if you're a member of the church or not, if you need that ritual then they encourage you. I thought that was weird at first, but so many people take comfort in that wafer and grape juice (or whatever it is).

If your church is causing you anxiety, shouldn't you find a home better suited to you? Ask around, I bet there are other churches that offer communion without all the politics. Well, there'll be politics, for sure, but not so much to cause your spiritual pain.
sydwynd said…
Jude: For the most part, I ignore all the politics and other jazz. And other times it makes me crazy how little we act like Christians when trying to carve out a little kingdom for ourselves. I don't give the music haters a second thought.

Jinxi: Hey stranger! Glad you stopped by!

Boy, your first question is a BIG one! To try and wrap it up into a small package, while Christ is with me by way of his Spirit at all times, sometimes you need a physical connection. Kind of like the difference between talking over the internet and in person, you know? Just before we go up for communion, we say something I find very powerful and moving: Lord, I'm not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed (emphasis mine). That's what the Eucharist is to me. Jesus literally putting his hand on my and healing me. As far as I know, there's only one other denomination that believes the Eucharist is the physical body of Christ and not a symbol, and they're more conservative than Catholics!

I guess the bottom line is what you said, I can't think of a home for me spiritually other than where I am. There's so many good people in my parish that are there for me spiritually. But there are some days you want to smack people and make them realize they're losing sight of the big picture.
JJ said…
The church that I was talking about did do some sort of ritual prior to communion, but I don't recall what it was. I did wonder why it seemed so similar to the Catholic communion-- except that everyone was invited to partake and there was no need to be a member of the church.

I can understand getting comfort from spiritual ritual. I almost understand why you feel that the little wafers are the actual embodiment of Christ. I hope that doesn't sound condescending. I believe that trees and plants hold spiritual energy. I think, with trees and stones, that it's the age of them that awes me. But I see the beauty and the spirit in everything like that. I also feel it inside myself sometimes and I believe we can put that energy into inanimate objects so that we can gain comfort from them. So, I understand your comfort, but don't understand the whole embodiment part. :)

That's no judgment on you, of course. I completely admire your dedication to your faith and your church. When I get frustrated at the hypocrites I have to serve on Sundays I remember that not all Christians forget their values when they leave the church and that's because of you.
sydwynd said…
Jinxi: No worries. I know not everyone, even Christians, believe in Transubstantiation (the big word for it). My belief is that you are indeed correct. That spirtual energy you feel emenating from all the living things, that's God. We all experience Him in diferent ways. Some worship Him directly, and some indirectly. But we're imperfect beings and its hard to understand the Perfect, if you know what I mean.

I appreciate not being lumped in with the hypocrites. I've worked very hard, since a young age, not to be one.

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