Drifting With Faith

Forgive me if I rant, but I feel compelled to seek communication with those who are active in the faith. I was raised Catholic but never felt enough interest in the faith to uphold the tenants, and naturally I rebelled against it as early as the eight grade (I flipped off the Church as I walked away from the graduation ceremony). Fast forward through college. I dabbled with the usual beasts: Marxism, Relativism. It’s not that I engaged in any kind of “activism” (few did) or that I attempted true relationships (Looking back, I treated every woman I came across as an item in a carnival gift-shop). It’s that I shackled myself with ideals, always seeing the world through the bars of my intellect. I thought myself a rebel who bore his wits as a weapon against oppression, when in truth I was nothing more than a man who worshiped a hose while his house burned. In short, I floated on ideals when I should have bravely swam in the sea of life.

But ideals are no more than driftwood in this ocean. They oppressed me. I sensed the absolute insanity of my far-left professors and peers. One professor outright rejected the age of consent laws and monogamy as nothing more than outdated and fascistic concepts (one wonders how his parents, who he spoke warmly about, would react to their son’s hatred for their identity. One also wonders how he did not square the logic that to hate the family structure you generated from is to hate the very fact of your birth).

I converted to alcoholism (An idolatrous religion. The counter is the altar and the bartender is the priest and the sigh after the first sip is an "Alleluia. It’s also another piece of drift wood). This lasted for years before I was given an inconceivable second chance at love ( I won’t go into this, suffice to say the chances of it happening were almost non-existent, and I firmly feel the breath of God in this opportunity). For reasons I can not articulate, for reasons I know only intuitively, I sensed God , and I mean sensed. The thought of Grace and being touched by The Holy Spirit filled me with utter chills. Peace glowed in me. The sensation was almost painful. Gradually, all confusions ceased. I thought clearer than I ever had. It wasn’t a matter of feeling “happy” or “fulfilled”, or even “comforted”. I was still anxious and doubtful and frankly disturbed by how alien these feelings were. I felt entirely removed from my previous way of life overnight. There was no going back, even if I wanted to. I doggy-paddled through this ocean, and as its vastness shrunk the driftwood in the distance, I both loved and dreaded its immensity.

I nowhere near swam. My idealism resurfaced, this time through the faith. I engaged too theoretically with my faith, didn’t let that joyful feeling (and that’s the word for it, Joyful! happiness is simply its plastic idol) emanate from within as much as I should have. Consequently, my faith once again shattered, and it remains in pieces, which I am now trying to pick up. The fact is the gift that I felt come from the breath of God is still (Thankfully!) in my life and despite my efforts to preserve and cherish this gift, I wonder and in fact feel that He is still present and guiding me, and that my own efforts are bumbling in comparison (Because our faith is not a superstitious one. God does not punish us for acting out our wills. We punish ourselves. He guides us like a Father who lets His children run through mud. There’s a cleaner path and He leads us there, but maybe we won’t see the value and beauty of that path until we tire of soiling ourselves ).

Secular culture still horrifies me. Pop culture is without question a religion. Our basest instincts are paraded as banners of liberty. We are a culture of slaves who shake their shackles like rattles and sing hymns of praise. Political correctness gives me a Kafkian dread. Speak against utopian dreams and the intelligentsia readies their legislative guillotines. Part of what interests me in the Church again is that it is literally the only institution on the planet that fights for the rights of the disabled and unborn and all manners of displaced individuals. Not ideally, but truly, actively. No social media discussions about the plight of the poor but door to door service. No word games and historic revisions but prayers and soup kitchens. In my fall away from the Church, I’ve dabbled with the Enlightenment philosophy of “Cultivating The Self”. It worked as far as I thought, but no matter how hard I work at my faults, there’s always cracks though which leaks of debasement seep, and I can’t help but wonder if God has been with me all along, letting me walk my path, pointing at the mud stains on my soul and saying, “Consider the excitement you seek when splashing through the mud. Consider the refreshment of its coolness compared to the hot grass. I offer all that on my path, without the smell and stains.”

And it occurs to me now, as I rant here off the top of my head in the hope I convey what pulls me inside, that perhaps the primary difference between our path and His is simply Praise. What is a gift without a person to thank for receiving it, to remember when seeing it, to share it with? Suppose we ourselves are the gift-givers, then we thank each other, but isn’t that an implication that we are self-sacrificing when our wills are all that matter? God or no God, gift-giving (not material, but personal) is self-sacrifice, and if there is no God, no living source for this altruism contrary to indifferent nature, no Will to align our multiple and opposing Wills with, isn’t the sustainment of gift-giving an almost Herculean task when confronted with the difficulties of this life?

I speculate here because I am still not wholly convinced of my faith. I’ve ranted about myself to escape myself and engage a conversation. I thank you all for reading and ask that you give your honest impressions of this. Does it resonate with why or why you don’t believe?

I wish I could help you but my life experience has been on the other side of the pasture.

But I do know from what you have said that Jesus is nudging you gently to come home to him, the good shepherd who loves all his sheep.

Thoughts tend to get very mysterious, deep, and clouded the longer a soul is away from Jesus, for he said he is the way, the truth, and the light. So he dispells all the mirky thinking and throws light where it is needed simplifying things for us. So we are in darkness the longer we are away from him.

I believe you will benefit from the sacrament of reconciliation, the sacrament of his mercy. It isn’t that hard to do, just tell the priest that you need help because it has been a while since you were there. Then let him help you thru it. You will not only feel better, but your thoughts will begin to see light again.

May Jesus bless you.

Dear Hoisted Sheep, I read your beautifully expressive post and identified with so much of it, my heart was breaking for you. I was lost myself for so many years, I sobbed for the pain you must be experiencing now. The love of my own daughter brought me back out of the pit of self loathing and hopelessness and gave me the courage to approach the confessional, a process that took me years to succumb to the love and mercy of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. the joy of which you spoke is in Him… I will pray for you and encourage you to seek your solace in the mercy of the Lord.

Welcome back home to the Church. :slight_smile:

When we are sated with the fullness of sin and realize our own woundedness, there’s nothing left to cling to but God’s grace. Does that sum up the experiences you cited?

There are two ways God saves us. One is after we’ve given into sin and the world’s ideas–that’s what you’ve had in your life. The other is to preserve us in our post-baptismal condition. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

The only solution is to do what the Church, Scripture, and the Saints have told us to do–throw ourselves on God’s mercy and cooperate with his grace. This means recognizing that God is God and we aren’t. At man’s fall we lost our connection to God. The result was that we became wounded beings whose nature was corrupted, which is why we tend to be selfish and to sin, our intellect was weakened, which is why we cannot always understand what we ought to understand, and our will was weakened, which is why we cannot always do what we know we ought to do.

Our healing is the reason Christ became one of us, died for us, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven for us, and established his Church–to give us the tools we need to live in God’s mercy, grace, and love. We cannot do it on our own, as you have come to understand. We need the sacraments like we need to eat and breath.

Talk to your local priest. Go to confession, attend Mass (obligation Masses such as Sundays for certain), read the Catechism, Scripture, and other good spiritual material, and develop a daily prayer life (the Liturgy of the Hours is best: divineoffice.org/. Yes, before you consider yourself worthy/ready because the cure only comes when we are willing to apply it–that means practicing the faith God is leading you to not simply thinking about it or feeling something about it. It is in doing that we are saved not just in wanting. :wink:

I feel your pain. Literally. I’m in the same boat. 5 or 6 years ago I too felt a call to return toy faith, and although I have made huge strides, I’ve fallen off the wagon many times. The last few months, i’ve found it harder than ever to reignite the flame. I find that I can speak the words, that sometimes the words coming out of my mouth are full if wisdom- but in a way it feels like I’m only trying to convince myself. What hurt us was the absence of God in our lives, but beyond a doubt, what saved us were the prayers of those around us who prayed for us while we were living our sinful lives all of those years.

I know my message isn’t very insightful, i’m sure it doesn’t really answer any of your questions, but I wanted to tell you that you aren’t alone. I’m in the same boat right now, trying to find my way back. Can I make a suggestion? Here’s what helped me find some clarity when I first started to try to come back- I pushed myself to do a rosary once a day. It only takes about 20 minutes to complete it- and it will honestly change your life. (You can break it up throighout the day as well if that’s easier). If you can, try to give something up at the same time (fasting)- for me at the time, it was giving up facebook for 2 months (I had signed on to do a 54 day rosary novena). I also deleted all of the games from my phone- because I identified phone games and Facebook as the 2 biggest sources of distractions in my life. To replace them, I downloaded a catholic bible app and spent a bit of time every day reading the gospels (eventually buying my very first bible). I think my next step will be to study the bible on a regular basis- I would honestly like to become somewhat of an apologist. I also changed my other reading habits, started investing in books on the lives of the saints, or researching saints and spiritual growth online (as well as taking part in this forum).

I’d be willing to do a 9 day novena with you if you’d like to give it a try. We, together, can ask our lady for her prayers to help us find our faith. We can keep each other accountable.

Either way, my prayers are with you. I know how hard it is to find your way back. If you ever need to vent, feel free to message me

Thanks all, especially for the prayers.

Fred Conty- What you say resonates deeply with me. There is no doubt that when my thoughts are centered on Christ and extend outward with his teachings as an anchor, everything appears clearer. The question I struggle with is whether or not this has any true basis in reality. In some respects, I can see how one can be awed by the beauty of nature and the sheer unlikelyhood of our birth without positing an existence of God. The fact that there is beauty and that we are alive to experience it is itself a miracle, and I can see how just this thought brings comfort and meaning to our lives. But this comfort and “meaning” is pure feeling. As I said in my post, with this view of life, there is no true thankfulness. Thankfulness is a concept that exists only in relation to another. To be thankful for a life rooted solely in material processes is to inevitably be either a deification of nature or an existence in which all our strives are purely material, and therefore temporal. Hence the Book of Ecclesiastes. Either we trust in God or in Fate. But without God, Fate is chaos. If there is no God, then to trust in chaos without absurdly combating it is noble, but nobility is meaningless in such an existence, and speaks against our innate convictions that there is in fact an objective value of human life. I think of Romanticism. The emphasis on feelings and a pantheistic expression of God illuminated the madness of pure reason The Age of Enlightenment celebrated, but this spirituality divorced from the balance of Christ lead to a deification of the state in The French Revolution and in the Nationalism of the Nazis. Balance is needed between feeling and reason, hence why Christ taught “The law is alive”. The law is not a rigid construct of reason, nor a relativist hunk of clay to be molded by the feelings of those who live by it, but an composite expression of life that forms an objective foundation and builds a flexible foundation on top of it, a living monument we build with prayer and works in thanks to God.

Sorry for the philosophizing. I started this thread to see where my thoughts take me and to share it in the hope of sparking a conversation on faith. I thank you all of your replies and hope you will share your impressions too. My hope is that through this conversation we can challenge and strengthen our Faith.

Used2beSherryG and and Della- Thank you for your prayers and advice. I am happy to see what I said is an experience you can relate to and that you have taken the time to offer me advice and encouragement in building my Faith.

Joelle M- Thank you for your kindness. I’m sad to say I’ve stopped praying almost entirely in recent months, and it is strange, because when I started praying the Rosary more intently after my conversion, I truly felt a difference in my life and in my thoughts. Mary truly seemed present, and it shocked me to see how much each mystery of the Rosary interconnected. The whole of the Rosary encompasses all of life; it’s as if to pray the Rosary is to share our lives with Mary and our Lord. What I arrogantly thought to be nothing more than a few muttered prayers in a vein attempt at wishful thinking turned out to be a deep-sea dive into my psyche and, more importantly, into life. I hope to pray again, and thank you for your encouragement. Yes, lets start that Novena together. I will start tonight.

Perfect, I will too! I’ll make a special request for you every day. I’m sure it will do both of us a lot of good.

God Bless you!

Thanks! I’ll share that request. God bless you too.

HoistedSheep, I’m happy anything I wrote helped you. :tiphat: I have been praying for you and will continue to do so. Please pray an Ave for me, as well.

A quote for you from the great Catholic wit and prolific author G. K. Chesterton:

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

― G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World

I highly recommend Chesterton’s books and other writings. Along with What’s Wrong with the World, The Catholic Church and Conversion, Orthodoxy, and The Everlasting Man. All their texts can be found here: cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/. HIs books are also available for sale through Ignatius Press. Brilliant, witty, and full of compassion–even for his “foes,” such as Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells, who, along with other progressives of his day, loved him even though they disagreed with him. :slight_smile:

Day two! :slight_smile: hope you’re still in this and having a great day/night:)
Ps- I had to giggle a bit when making mention of you -Hoisted Sheep- in my rosary intensions! Haha

Joelle M- I am praying for you, thank you for your prayers too. That’s funny about the name! :stuck_out_tongue: Hope you are having a peaceful night. God be with you.

Della- Thank you for your prayers. I’m praying for you too. Thanks for the book recommendations. I’ve never read Chesterton, but the quotes and excerpts I’ve read have been fantastic. Thanks for that site. God be with you too.

I recommend Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

For another approach I recommend the presentation of exorcist Father Vince Lampert:

youtu.be/hqrj8JeBcVA

Lastly, I recommend Mother Angelica and Bishop Fulton Sheen

mattp0625- Thanks for the book recommendations! Ive heard of C.S. Lewis and have loved the excerpts I have read of him, but have yet to read his books in their entirety. I look forward to exploring them in full. I’m watching Father Vince Lampert’s presentation now. Exorcism is a topic that has always kept me interested in the Faith, since it largely does seem irrefutable to me. I’m very much indebted to Bishop Fulton Sheen and Mother Angelica. When I first reverted to the Faith, they were my primary sources aside from The Bible and some of the Church Fathers. They continue to strengthen my Faith. Pray for me, please. I will pray for you too.

I surely will pray.

A few notes:

CS Lewis was a great Christian philosopher and radio show host from the WWII era who converted from atheism, but he was not Catholic.

Some books on exorcism will note that while it’s good to be aware, it’s not good to become obsessed with or preoccupied by the topic

I also liked Miracles Do Happen by Sister Briege McKenna.

I hope these sources do for you what they did for me

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