I’ve been struggling recently with doubts especially with doubts about the authority of the Church. For me it is a real difficulty because I FIRMLY believe in the Real Presence and I know that without the Church there is no communion but I have been really sturggling with the idea that the Catholic Church
-has the “fullness of the faith”
-That the teachings of the Church are infallible.
I obviously have a few more specific questions which have led me to these doubts, but mainly this is a doubt which arises from history. I huge part of my faith in the Church has been my study of the Church Fathers. I know when I have read them that the Church in their times seems Catholic. Recently I have read deeper into the church fathers and discovered that nearly every single one of them is a heretic in one way or another. In fact the early Church seemed to be a church of heresy and confusion! This really shook me to the heart of my faith. The idea began to play on my mind that Catholicism is just one of the many “versions” of Christianity at the time which just so happened to gain influence, because it was the church in the most influential city of early Christendom: Rome.
This made me think of all the little doubts I have had which I have dismissed because of my belief in the infallibility of the Church (The idea of the perpetual virginity of Our Lady- specifically that she gave birth miraculously. The existence of purgatory, the Immaculate conception of Our Lady. All things which until now i have accepted happily because the Church tells me they are true without understanding the need for them and with ignored doubts)
I have begun to toy with the idea that perhaps it isn’t necessary for salvation to be Catholic, but I love the Catholic Church because of the Sacraments, because of the beauty of the visible Church on earth.
I guess I am in a real dillemma: I want the Eucharist- which I KNOW to be Jesus Christ- without having to believe in the idea that Christ instituted the Catholic Church. But of course I cannot receive the Eucharist if I subscribe to heresies!
I also WANT to have faith in the Catholic Church, since I do love her. I DO NOT want to be a cafteria Catholic and no-one has ever been able to accuse me of that in the past. I want whole Catholicism, or no Caholicism.
I know I ought to dismiss these temptations but I think I am beyond that now.