I find your story touching, mostly because you are living my life, 20 years ago. I left God, did my own thing, called myself agnostic or atheist or whatever my mind wanted to believe, just avoiding God and His great love for me. I did this, I think, because I was scared to feel that love, scared to devote my life to the obedience that I knew would be required when I finally felt Him in my life. The obedience, I have found now, to be nothing but overwhleming joy!. Oh, when he finally touched me, in His own time and for His own Glory, I cried becasue I knew I had turned my back on Him and all the love He pured on me. All the blessings in my life, all the happiness I was living, He continued to give to me despite my refusal to accept them. Nonetheless, when I was ready to turn around, there he was.
I was raised catholic, was confirmed, the decided to leave the church like you have. I did not know anything about my faith. When it was time to raise my own children, my wife and I decided to raise them Catholic, so we began to take them to church. Every time I went to mass, I listened a little harder. Then I started praying again. Wow, I felt it now. I prayed more, and I began to ask Jesus Christ to give my back faith. Give me peace. Help me give your gift to my children. Like yesterday, I remember hearing him say, “I have always been here. You will have peace” In my heart, he was always there, no matter what I believed. He lifted my face, wiped away the tears, and it has been joy ever since. This year, I had my first Easter and my first advent, and now my first Christmas is coming. Maranna tha! This has a been a special year.
I think you are on the same path as I was not so long ago. The reason I say this is because of something you wrote made me think, God is still in his heart. You wrote:
“I also think it is immoral of me to attend mass, not participate, take communion when I don’t believe the same things about as Catholics do, and to continue to lie to my family about my beliefs.”
What does an atheist have to do with morals. I am not taking about being a good and bad person, I was not a bad person just because I didn’t believe in the one true God, but you are concerned about telling lies, descrating the loving Eucharist because you dont believe in the Body, etc…this means you still see the joy of following God’s law, and you in some way still revere the host as Holy despite your current theological philosophy. That bread, that body of Christ, lives in you heart! It is powerful, it is turth, light, love, and the one true way to eternal happiness with our Lord. That Faith is what saves us from eternal loss of God: Hell.
The next time you try to wrap your arms around a 100 year old tree, ask yourself what you really know about this life. I hope you realize one day that God is not a choice. That God lives in us as His image of love. You remain a good person, for His glory, because that is how he made you, no matter what you believe. I am not sorry to preach and evangelize, because without love, we are all gongs. So I hope you here my message for when a person becomes so filled with the loving grace of God like I am, it is only natural to want to share that with others; especially those who are walking the same sorrowful steps I walked once upon a time. Maybe I will make you think, maybe I won’t; however, my God loves you, always, no matter what you do or where you go. He will be there when you are ready for him. He will always be your God.
Abounding love for you my brother and peace in Christ,