10 Reasons I Struggle with Catholicism


#1

I’ve spent a long time thinking about why I struggle so much with Catholicism, and it has led me to make a list of 10 major things. I don’t intend to start a debate, but hopefully gain some insight.

Have you ever struggled with anything below? If so, how did/do you deal with it?

1. The world makes more sense without bringing up God
Besides the question of who created the universe, everything seems to make more sense to me if you don’t bring God into the picture at all. It makes more sense to explain events in the world as a result of free will than as a result of God’s intervention.

2. Worshiping an unknown God seems foreign to me
A lot of people that I talk to have very intimate relationships with God. I have never had that privilege. God has not revealed himself to me, so I can’t grasp the concept of worshiping someone or something I don’t know.

3. Prayer often just seems like wishful thinking
People will point to the 1 out of 100 times that their prayer is answered as evidence that a loving God is intervening for them, but they ignore the other 99 times out of 100 when their prayer is not answered.

4. Genocide in the OT
God commands genocide in the OT. I’ve heard people trying to spin the every which way and trying to justify it, but I just can’t stomach it.

5. The Bible seems just like mythology
When I read stories about the Ark of the Covenant, Noah, Ananias and Sapphira, Samson, etc, it just doesn’t seem any different than mythology found in our current and ancient religions.

6. Catholicism has never made me happy
I know this may sound rather selfish and self-centered, but CCC 1723 tells us that true happiness only comes from God alone. I have had happy moments in my life, but I’ve never been happy when it comes to Catholicism. I’ve only felt confusion, fear, frustration, and guilt.

7. There are so many non-Catholics
Faith in the Christian God is taught as being completly and utterly essential, but yet there are so many people who don’t actually believe. If it is so incredibly important to believe in the Christian God, I don’t understand why God doesn’t make himself more well known. So many people learn about Catholicism, but they just don’t come to believe.

8. The thought that only Catholics can do good
Even though it’s not official Catholic doctrine, I get turned off by Catholics claiming that unless you have faith in the Christian God, everything you do is selfish, in vain, and ultimately evil.

9. Vagueness
Catholics often claim that God answered their prayers, but the answers that he supposedly gave always seem so vague to me. It would seem to me that it is more likely that God didn’t give them an answer rather than God giving an obscure and vague.

10. God of the gaps
Historically, people have used God as an explanation for gaps in their understanding of the world. But as our understanding of the world progresses, our concept of God is pushed farther and farther into a corner. Although we won’t ever fully understand the universe, our idea of God’s role continues to get smaller and smaller.


#2

AI think for a start (it’s late, so it’s hard for me to give you a proper answer), you should check these links out:

st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/Lectures.php
catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=18504&page=1

Excerpt from the 2nd link:

*"How are we to interpret the scientific picture of life’s origins in terms of religious belief. Do we need God to explain this? Very succinctly my answer is no. In fact, to need God would be a very denial of God. God is not the response to a need. One gets the impression from certain religious believers that they fondly hope for the durability of certain gaps in our scientific knowledge of evolution, so that they can fill them with God. This is the exact opposite of what human intelligence is all about. We should be seeking for the fullness of God in creation. We should not need God; we should accept her/him when he comes to us.
*

As for point 3, I would like to point out my favourite quote (and thereby, my signature :)):

*“God’s Answers are Wiser than Our Prayers”
*
There are plenty a-times where I’d like to thank God for not answering those prayers that I really wanted at that moment :).


#3

Very good article. Thanks for sharing that.


#4

A lot of questions. I’ll try taking a shot at them from my viewpoint. Please forgive my grammar and spelling. I am trying to get off the computer so my wife can get some work done, so I may not have time to double check this, but I wanted to get a response to you.

The good thing is that you “are questioning.” You may be closer to God than you think. If you didn’t have faith, none of this would matter to you.

I converted to Catholicism 30 yrs ago. At that time , there were a lot of things I had trouble accepting about the church. One of the best pieces of advice I read was from C.S. Lewis, who addressed exactly what you are talking about. Basically he said accept the teaching of the church and in time the truths will be revealed to you. That has pretty much been the case for me. Much of what I questioned about the Catholic faith has been resolved during that time. Not all. Some may never be in my life time. I just keep going and take things day by day.

  1. God’s reasons don’t have to make sense. His ways are beyond our comprehension. We can’t possibly know the big picture and why everything links together.

  2. God is always there. He doesn’t have to make a big production and talk to you in an audible voice. Remember the story of the Footprints in the Sand? He may seem distant to us when he is actually the closet to us. He is there at our lowest moment. He said he would never leave us.

  3. God’s time table isn’t the same as ours. I have had things happen years after I prayed or them. Also, make sure what you are asking for is in God’s will.

  4. Throughout the existence of man, God has had to speak to us on the level that we can relate to. Take the story of Moses and the Hebrews where God tells them to not eat pork, have the latrines a certain distance from their encampment, circumcision 8 days after birth. People at that time didn’t know that pork that isn’t completely cooked can carry triconosis, that polluted sewage to close to a water supply or a dwelling can cause illness. They didn’t know about bacteria, or that a baby’s immune system is the highest 8 days after birth, so that would be the best time to circumcise the baby. He had to speak to them with what they could comprehend. He still does that today, just on a different level.

  5. Many stories are parables or myths to help better illustrate a spirtual truth. If they are a fable or a myth does that in itself make them invalid?

  6. We all struggle with doubts and fears. Mother Teresa had doubts her whole life as well as many other saints. Ever read, Dark Night of the Soul, by St. John of the Cross? No one is spared struggles and hardships. However, the Church can be a support to you. If your parish doesn’t provide you what you need, look for one that may suit you better.

  7. One of God’s greatest gifts is that he gave us free will. We can choose to follow or we can choose not to.

  8. I think if you read the catechism closely you will see that the Church doesn’t believe that God rejects those who aren’t Catholic. We feel all faiths have some level of truth. However, we in the Catholic faith feel we are the closest to the whole truth that God gave us. However, a follower should not be haughty or condescending to others. We are all on a walk of faith, some are just farther along than others. A spirtual baby can be 80 yrs old and one great in faith in knowledge might be 18.

  9. Could you give an example?

  10. God only gets smaller if we choose to let it be that way.

Best wishes on your spiritual journey.


#5

But I don’t have any desire to worship someone that remains so hidden and unknown, even if he is actually really close to me.

  1. Throughout the existence of man, God has had to speak to us on the level that we can relate to. Take the story of Moses and the Hebrews where God tells them to not eat pork, have the latrines a certain distance from their encampment, circumcision 8 days after birth. People at that time didn’t know that pork that isn’t completely cooked can carry triconosis, that polluted sewage to close to a water supply or a dwelling can cause illness. They didn’t know about bacteria, or that a baby’s immune system is the highest 8 days after birth, so that would be the best time to circumcise the baby. He had to speak to them with what they could comprehend. He still does that today, just on a different level.

Fair enough, but that still doesn’t sit well with me that God would command something that seems so blatantly wrong.

  1. One of God’s greatest gifts is that he gave us free will. We can choose to follow or we can choose not to.

I know. I just think that if believing in God is so important, it would be more clear; that way people could actually decide if they would want to follow God or not. But now it’s so confusing and people go in all sorts of different directions.

  1. I think if you read the catechism closely you will see that the Church doesn’t believe that God rejects those who aren’t Catholic. We feel all faiths have some level of truth. However, we in the Catholic faith feel we are the closest to the whole truth that God gave us. However, a follower should not be haughty or condescending to others. We are all on a walk of faith, some are just farther along than others. A spirtual baby can be 80 yrs old and one great in faith in knowledge might be 18.

True. I guess my annoyance comes more with individuals than it does with Catholicism when it comes to this issue, and I shouldn’t take that out on the whole church.

  1. Could you give an example?

Hmm…Sometimes I talk to people who tell me that God told them to do something. When I ask them how did God tell them, they said they just got a feeling when they were praying. That seems so vague to me. We always get feelings. It would make more sense that God didn’t tell them one way or another, but rather they had certain desires which made them think God was telling them to do something.

Best wishes on your spiritual journey.

Thanks, and thanks for the response.


#6

Not trying to nitpick, but perhaps it would be best to say something more along the lines of: “Catholics believe the Catholic Church possesses the whole truth that God gave us.” - Just a thought :slight_smile:


#7

I like to go on nature walks in the woods. So one day while I was going through a hard time, my only clean t-shirt was one that had a picture of the Holy Eucharist on it and a Bible verse dealing with the Real Presence of Jesus written on it. I knew it was going to be hot and I would get sweaty wearing the shirt, but told myself, “Why not? After all, who’s going to see me in the woods?”

It was spring warbler migration time, and warblers are incredibly special to a bird watcher like me … They are the feathered jewels of the forest, some species only staying around to be seen for a couple of days or weeks, and can be difficult to spot since they’re tiny little things that flit all over the place.

Up ahead on the trail that day, I heard warbler calls and could see lots of these small precious birds all jumping around in one particular tree. I wondered what the big attraction was, and what was so special about that tree that it drew all the birds to it?

Coming closer to the warbler-filled tree, I saw that somebody had carved a heart into the wood, with the words, “JESUS LOVES YOU.”

~~ the phoenix


#8

:heaven:


#9

Neat story.


#10

Thanks, northstar3 and Sinner1:

Hail and well met to you both! :slight_smile:

… And God has told me “no,” as well. Once I asked for Catholic friends in a parish I had recently joined, and the immediately-following words of the Communion Hymn were about Jesus saying that He calls us “friend” … It really seemed like He wanted me to focus on Him rather than on people in the parish based on the timing, context, and circumstances. And then, I ended up switching to a more compatible parish anyways!

Looking forward to enjoying further conversation with you and hearing more from/about you,

~~ the phoenix


#11

#12

Well, yes and no. I know how close people say that Christ is to us in the Eucharist, but I haven’t come to that realization yet myself.


#13

i can take that as an answer…may i ask why do you go to mass?i ask this as a question not in a sarcastic way…


#14

To be honest, I go to mass because I feel like I have to. (I would prefer not to go.) But at the same time, I guess I also go to mass because I hope God will reveal himself to me.


#15

Agreed. Correction accepted.


#16

Hi, I “Crossed the Tiber” Easter Vigil '06. I hadn’t really struggled with many of the things you listed…but just kinda came across the answers either on the way here, or in my study of the Church itself. Hope some of this helps.

Of course it does. That is because the majority of the condition of the world is a result of NOT including God. Man HAS free will, given by God, and because we are sinful - the result is the world as we have it now.

If you want God to be closer to you - you have to move closer to Him. Don’t look at it as “worship” - look at it as developing a friendship. God does deserve Worship - don’t get me wrong…but if you remember - Jesus came as a servant. He is STILL here as a servant. He comes when we ask Him to, he will take up residence in our hearts - but only when we ask and allow Him to. Jesus waits for us, patiently, to seek Him, Ask Him, to DO things for us we cannot do ourselves - which is EVERYTHING…everything that is except invite Him into our hearts and lives. That is completely up to US.

Well, Prayer IS wishful thinking. In order for Prayer to be effective - you need FAITH. Faith - in very plain terms, is believing through a “wish”. Remember when you wished for things as a kid? Your whole heart went into asking for that one thing believing that it could happen - because mom and dad could do anything. It is no different with God - our Spiritual Father.

He does always answer our prayers. Just not always like we would like Him to. Did your parents always give you what you wanted? Do you expect God to give us what we want all the time? No, He is a good Father - and gives us what we need.

Neither could the children of Israel, altogether. They didn’t go through and slaughter everyone in the land when they took it. God ordered what He did for the Protection of the Children of Israel. Israel HAD to survive, for the reasons of His economy of Salvation - Salvation would come through the Israelites. Sure - it looks terrible, but remember the Story of Sodom and Gomorrah? That is what happens when an isolated community tailspins into sin and stays there. Israel, and the world, has/had enough problems without being surrounded by people who would want to fight them and tempt them all the time. Look at what happens in the world today with dictators and petty tyrants.

Although I personally believe the stories are true, because the Holy Spirit inspired them, and God does not lie. They are there for the edification of our Faith. God can, and does, do what He wishes. God can do anything, and He takes a personal interest in our welfare. Although we may not always like or agree with the way He does it - this kinda goes along with the question above. God took care of the Children of Israel - although they were fantastically outnumbered…they won the land of Israel…as promised.


#17

I think this goes along with you question above also, about worshiping an unknown God - you seem to be looking at God as a ‘Master’ or someone just sitting there waiting for you to screw up. Read more of the New Testament, rather than so much of the Old. We will sin - He knows that, we will slip - He knows that too. He is always waiting for us to return and receive His love and forgiveness, not for an “excuse” to send us to hell, or make our lives miserable. God is our Father, Brother, and closest companion…He wants us to be in Heaven with Him. He gave us His Mother to watch over us - like a Mother. He went through the torture and humiliation of the Passion for us…does that sound like someone who wants us to be guilt ridden and confused? No. Yes, true happiness - which is Joy and Love, can only come from God - but again…we must allow Him into our hearts and lives, WE have to make the first move towards Him - until we do that, He can do nothing but patiently wait.

Seeds are planted in the road, rocks, weeds, and good soil. You may start in the road…but eventually you will find your way into the good soil. Also - God works with what you have. If you’ve never heard of Him - you are judged according to the laws written in your heart. If you have “invincible Ignorance” concerning His Church - no fault will be found - you are responsible for what you know. Yes it is immensely easier to find and follow Him in the Church - but…not absolutely necessary.

God does make Himself known. Your conscience, conception of right and wrong - which is remarkably similar the world over, and through His creation. Every single culture on earth recognizes there is a God…it’s just that sometimes their hearts become darkened - through their own sinful nature, and things get totally screwy. Satan takes over then you get such things as Human Sacrifice - a parody of the Sacrifice of God.

I have not come across this so I can’t really comment on it as you’ve portrayed it. If this is someones own interpretation, obviously (in my own opinion) they are having trouble with the concept of Love and personal Sacrifice.

God answers you personally in many ways. Sometimes it is through Locution - which is where you seem to hear His voice simultaneously inside and outside of your head. There is NO doubt who is speaking to you.

He speaks in your Heart and Mind - you see images and have concepts come into your mind, simultaneously with understanding coming into your heart and mind.

He speaks to your Heart - this is the most “Vague” of answers. It is a simple enlightening of your heart, you “know” what your answer is. It is the Holy Spirit speaking directly to your heart.

I have heard that God wishes to speak to everyone directly…we all just don’t have the Faith to allow it.

Sometimes people will be vague about how they came to know what God meant or said through a sense of humility. Rather that saying “God spoke to me and said…” they just say “I knew it”. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This seems to be a misunderstanding of what constitutes Faith, and what constitutes Truth.

People of old had no real scientific concept of what the world and the universe was about. Therefore it was easy to say ‘God did it’ and ‘That’s all I need to know’. Simple childlike faith.

Now we have all these answers as to how things work and sometimes why. Yes, that childlike faith is lessened - in a sense - every time a scientific answer is given. However, that does not lessen the Truth that God did it, or that God works through what He has created to achieve His ends. The fact that Gods ‘role’ might just be relegated to the initial planning and proclamation of "LET THERE BE LIGHT’’ makes it even more miraculous than His direct intervention in every single thing, rather than Here and There which is what it seems to be. God created a perfectly timed and working universe before anything came to be…and then said “Let There Be Light”…and voila - with the exception of coming down to create us, and His direct interventions…the rest took care of itself. Which is more miraculous?

Peace

John


#18

Prayer (Catholic prayer) is one of the reasons I have decided to become Catholic. When it’s only looked at as “asking” for something, we’ll never be happy. While prayer does of course include us asking things of God (hopefully according to His Will :slight_smile: ) the other large portion of it is giving thanks and praise to God for all He has provided and done in the course of his creation. And this is the part I love to be able to do, to give thanks and praise to God for His Goodness (love, mercy, justice, etc).


closed #19

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