Cradle Catholic, considering leaving the Church

Hi everyone,

I’ve struggled with my faith over the years and am wondering where I belong. I am a 38 year old mother of two young sons, and I attend Mass at my local Catholic church. I am also a part of the mom’s group there. I’ve never considered leaving the Catholic church, even during the times that I questioned the divinity of Christ himself. It has always been home.

However, I’ve noticed that the Catholic church in my area of California has changed over the years. It has become more vocal in its right-wing conservatism, and most of the moms I know have 6, 7, 8, even 10 children!!! There is also a preoccupation with the topic of abortion–and while I agree that abortion is one of the world’s greatest evils, I wonder sometimes if we can’t also talk about other things. In essence, I feel that my Catholic community has become a place of politics, abortion activists, and mothers of huge families. I simply don’t recognize the church I grew up in, and I’m feeling out of place with my tiny family of 4, my middle-of-the-road politics, and my interest in issues other than abortion, such as social justice and Christ-centered spirituality.

So I guess my question is–do I stay and tough it out, or do I follow my curiosity into my local Lutheran or Episcopal church? :shrug:

Leaving Christ’s Church for a schismatic group would be the very gravest sin. I suspect that you already know this.

The Church is above partisan politics. However, being pro-life and pro-family is part of being Christian. I cannot believe that any Christian could be offended by pro-life activities or large families.

Stay in of course! The Church was founded by Christ. All else is secondary.

God bless

I wouldn’t leave if I were you. I think the best thing you should do is find another outlet within the Church that you feel more of a part of. Maybe experience a different parish if there is another around you. The Catholic Church is massive, there are plenty of people like yourself within it and the parishes aren’t all the same. So I’d say stay, you are very blessed. This is coming from an Anglican (wish I could be Catholic but can’t at the moment due to family issues).

I think if you were to leave, then you would be leaving for the wrong reasons. Objectively the action of schism is always wrong. Subjectively culpability could be lessened or removed entirely by innumerable factors, such as one’s faith being scandalized by abuse at the hands of clergy being an extreme example.

I have not read you once even so much as mention the word “truth”. We are all obligated to search with our conscience to discern the “truth”.

The way you are speaking, makes me strongly feel that you may abandon the church simply because of the political activism and large families of your local diocese.

I am truly sorry to be so blunt, but this does seem odd to me. Organised religion is not about personal preference or taste. It is to do rather with the public manifestation of an inner conviction about what constitutes reality.

I would have more sympathy were you to have had real and persistent doubts - ie such as you mentioning about the divinity of Christ - that no amount of effort could remove.

To feel that you have to change your entire belief system, way of life, heritage and so forth merely because you don’t like the politics of your local diocese, is just…:shrug:

“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.”

That is what you would be leaving.

“There are millions in this world who are craving the pleasure earthly things afford,
but none can match the wonderous treasure that I find in the Bread from heaven, JESUS THE LORD.”


First, know that I consider myself to be a far worse sinner than you have ever been. The following applies to you only if you have some reservations regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If not, please skip this paragraph. If you leave, you will essentially be walking away from Christ for the sake of a personal comfort level. He lives in the Tabernacle and you receive Him - not bread and wine - at mass. It is a sad fact that no other Church, outside of the Orthodox, has the true presence of Christ.

Do you spend holy hours? If not, why not? Not even 15 minutes on a regular basis? We are called to love Jesus Christ as He loves us. If so, we then desire to spend time with the One we love. No better place for spiritual solace than in the presence of your Lord. If you have difficulty accepting the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, this is an even greater reason to go before Him in prayer. Tell Him of your troubles and doubts. Ask Him to reveal to you that He is there. Then, if you are as patient with Him as He has been with you, you will receive your answer. As Fr. Benedict Groeschel says, “Once you are aware that He is there, you will be changed.”

As well, you might want to explore some different ministries and/or associations in your parish. Even so, the families with whom you associate have been placed in your presence for a reason. And, you have been placed among them for a reason. Believe it or not, you can learn from them as they learn from you. I am guessing that they are pro-life while you are more social justice oriented. Great! Both are legitimate concerns of the Church. If those others tend to make you feel inferior due to having smaller family, make sure that your concern is warranted, then gently let them know that. As we have just seen in our celebrations of the Advent and Christmas seasons, raising even a single child is of eternal and infinite importance to God.

And, sadly, to be a faithful Catholic these days can tend to make one appear conservative by contrast with the surrounding culture. To be Christian in any sense of the word means that you accept the cross of counter-culturalism that comes with it. You accept the criticism, the suffering, the exiles, if you will. Your life in Christ includes a walk along the the Via Dolorosa. Each of us has veered a bit off the path during our faith journey and we all need occasional course correction. If you have had angry of resentful thoughts regarding your parish, confess them! Nothing better than to leave that confessional with some spiritual guidance, and knowing that your sins are gone.

One other bit: if you feel alienated from others, insulted, belittled or shunned by them, this is a clear call for you to offer prayer for them - which leads directly back to the reason that you became Catholic in the first place: our Lord Jesus Christ - Emmanuel - present among us. If you can manage even 5-10 minutes per week in His presence - on the way to the store or coming back - I guarantee that you will leave the chapel more refreshed than you arrived.

For me to leave the Catholic Church, I would have to renounce Christ. It is just that simple. He has confirmed His presence to me in the spiritual realm, and that is enough. It is all I need.

thanks everyone, I really do appreciate your thoughtful responses. I do have many other theoloical issues with the church and I’m trying my best to work those out in within myself. Also, I’m not at all offended by large families! In fact these are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. in other words, it’s not them, it’s me. Having a smaller family and having interests other than abortion makes me feel like I’m not quite a part of the community. They are also all homeschoolers and are very much a part of the subculture that that entails while I am not. maybe it really is a matter of just finding a new parish somewhere where there are more moms like myself?

Hi virgo,

I would just go to Mass at the other Catholic parishes in your area, and see what they are like. You might find another parish that is better suited for you. :slight_smile:

Try to start a group in your parish where discussion of current events is not the main topic. Start a praesidium of the Legion of Mary! Start a “Hospitality” evangelization… START SOMETHING.

If your problems are with Church theology, I suggest you read the church fathers -

Or ask people: “Who started your church?” If you want to switch to one whose founder was Luther or Calvin or Zwingli or Joseph Smith or Mohammed… well. Can your kids at least remain in the church?

As I was, you are making a journey. For years - decades - I had problems with Church teaching. I sinned again and again against that teaching. I was coming from the surrounding culture and had learned differently. It was a true struggle but Oh, was it ever worth it. Have a crucifix? Spend a few moments contemplating that cross and the unfathomable pain and suffering that came with it. You and I also have our crosses and as much as we would like to set them aside, we are celled to embrace them - once again, counter-cultural.

You know Church teaching, you just disagree with some of it. I have finally reached the point where I submit to Church teaching absolutely, but it took decades of struggle to get there. Yet, now I am at spiritually at peace whereas before, I never was. I was living a life that was essentially like adapting to a medical condition, rather than facing the surgery which would correct the condition and alleviate the pain.

Have you a catechism or even a copy of the excellent Catholicism for Dummies? In particular, the Dummies book is an easily read and understood reference that explains the reasons behind Catholic beliefs. Pondering those reasons, referring to the catechism, and partaking of the spiritual enlightenment that result from time spent in our Lord’s presence can and will address each of your concerns. In fact, you do all three simultaneously.

Can you not see that this person is in pain? Just because it doesn’t meet YOUR standard of faith crisis does not mean it is important to her.

To be dismissive of her is just plain cruel, IMHO.

We as Catholics have been indoctrinated with the truth. But many of us have not assimilated or appropriated the truths we were taught. For one simple reason, we were not evangelized. We did not experience that close encounter with Jesus being the Good New in our lives. The nature of this encounter gives us a real supernatural experience of Jesus’ love for us. When this takes place we are confirmed in our faith and no outside influence will be able to change us. Faith is a gift from God, not a result of anything we do no matter how good and intelligent or loving. Jesus is the Way the truth, and the Light. When we go to Him in the Spirit of repentance and humility and ask Him to bestow His Holy Spirit of Faith,Hope, and Love upon us He will do it in such a way that you can not deny that He loves you personally. He will confirm you in His truth, and you will never leave the Church. We need this confirmation of His Truth and Love found in the Church, and His personal love for us and we can have it. Call it a converting religious experience.freely given, it is a “gratuitus grace” merited for you by Jesus Christ. Your faith must be centered on Him alone and not outside influences, you may even see things that are scandalous, Jesus said that it will happen. Its happened already in some of our priests. No reason to leave the Church unless you are not fully converted. Many people leave their churches because they don’t like the pastor, they base their faith on their likes and dislikes, its a matter of convenience not obligation. We all have to avoid this kind of mentality. Our Faith must be solid as Our Church. It is founded on the Rock, Jesus Christ.

po18guy and coach dennis, and others, thank you for your kind responses. I was prepared for the kind of responses I received at the beginning of this message thread ( more judgment, alas!), but I wanted to reach out anyway to see if any others have experienced this. I am already struggling with my faith, and the fact that I am not a mom-of-10-homeschooling-FoxNews-watcher doesn’t help the fact that I feel out of place. I really appreciate the advice on starting my own group, exploring other ministries, and exploring my own relationship with Christ. I just want to get back to the basics. Back to my one-on-one relationship with Christ, back to scripture, back to God’s presence in my life. I’ve been feeling like the particular subculture at my parish and other Catholic churches in my area is not reflective of the church I knew growing up, where one’s relationship with Christ was the foundation.

I’m just back for today, as I’m contacting a priest on the forum for spiritual advice, but I can’t turn away from a poster who is considering leaving the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is the One, True Church, established by Christ Himself 2,000 years ago. The True Church is not your local Episcopalian or Lutheran church.

I can understand that some Catholics don’t even act like Catholics (just take a look at some of the people in my parish), but to leave Holy Mother Church is one of the most grievous of sins, punished by automatic excommunication.

As to your concerns, it is not bad for a married couple to have many children. God encourages us to have many children, as long as you can raise them without undue financial hardship.

As to abortion, the more we talk about it, the more we can get people to become pro-life. Abortion is an issue greatly affecting our society today, and we should constantly remind ourselves of the Church’s pro-life stance, and how we should try to convert people who oppose us.

I strongly suggest you read my post on the Catholic Church (linked below). It is inspiring, and really makes you appreciate your Catholic faith. I’m glad I am no longer a Lutheran. There are no sacraments in the local Lutheran church, and it seemed as if people there took a more humanist, Renaissance view of God than the Catholic view. I’m glad I’m at home in the Catholic Church, where I am at community with my Brothers and Sisters, and Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

As to your question of whether you should stay or leave, STAY!

Thanks for your response. I am printing this one out. Eloquent:)

bben15, thank you for taking the time on my post. I read your linked post, and it is a beautiful testament to our faith. I will read it again and ponder on its points, because I really need these reminders. Again, I am not at all against large families–more power to them! It is just not my particular path, and that path comes with a very strong subculture seems to crowd out the smaller family types such as myself.

I’ll switch parishes with you in a tachycardiac heartbeat.

We have too many of the same type you talk about here at CAF, yet here I stay, and the Church is far more important than any opinion or social websites, so by all means stay with the Church!

Surely if you don’t like these people or they make you feel uncomfortable you can just avoid them? At the risk of stating the obvious, “You must talk to your fellow parishoners” is not a precept of the Church.

I know you said you had theological issues as well, but it would be a shame if the personalities or lifestyles of a few unimportant laypeople was the thing to push you over the edge.

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