Haven't been going to mass


#1

Hi everyone…

I am standing at a crossroads right now, and I really need some help. I have come here from time to time with my troubles relating to NFP and the strains within my marriage. I am at a breaking point now, and I’m afraid of what might happen.

I just made it through a very long pregnancy “scare”. Physically and emotionally, I cannot handle a pregnancy right now. I had a 48 day cycle when I’m normally 34 days. That inflamed the NFP issue that has been running in the undercurrent to the point that I have owned up to my hatred of NFP to my husband. I hate what it does to my marriage. He said he would try to make 15 minutes a day to spend talking to me about “whatever”, but that has happenned only once since the blow up I had last week.

My husband is a cradle catholic. I’m a 4 1/2 year old convert. I haven’t been going to mass for a while now. The last time I went, I couldn’t bring myself to say a word or sing any of the responses. For some reason, I just sat there empty and blank.

I haven’t received the eucharist but a handful of times over the past year because I can’t bring myself to confess the private details of my marriage bed with a priest. I feel hollow as I sit there in the pew as my husband walks up again and again to receive communion without me. I feel abandoned by him.

But I can’t bring myself to confession. For one, I feel icky and dirty afterwards when all I really want is to talk to God about what’s on my conscience. Plus, since I don’t believe that God wants us to live inside of all of these tight rules about the marital embrace, I would be going to confession for certain sexual acts with my husband that I don’t believe are wrong anyway. But if I don’t accept EVERYTHING the church teaches, well then, I’m not Catholic, am I?

I used to talk to my husband about my struggles and my discrepancies with the church. He was never very helpful- he would just get upset that I was questioning. Now we don’t talk about religion. AT ALL. He goes off to mass, to confession, doesn’t ask me anything about it or take the kids. I would honestly rather go to mass without him than with him, and I’m not sure why. Does this make any sense to anyone out there? Why do I want to seek out my faith without my husband?

Please, your feedback is needed. I am lost, angry, and confused. I don’t believe our marriage would survive if I left the CC.


#2

Dear Kittery, I see you are in a place of serious dilemma that is destroying your peace of mind and undermining your spiritual life.
I wish I could encourage you to make an appointment with your priest to explain how serious this problem is for you and for your marriage. You wouldn’t need to speak of intimate things, but of the issues involved. They are well known by priests, they have to be or they cannot advise anyone in your situation. You wouldn’t be discussing anything a priest hasn’t heard before.

It would seem best if you and your husband were able to discuss the issue together with a wise priest, a good Catholic counsellor. Your husband clearly is unable to discuss anything regarding the church without feeling threatened, therefore a Catholic priest or counsellor whom he could also trust, is probably quite necessary.

I’ll keep you in prayer, as I do see how difficult things are for you and how distressed and alone you feel.

With love, Trishie
:hug1: :coffee: :coffee:


#3

Kittery,

As a recent covert, who’s wife is a recent convert as well I can tell you that the Sacrament of Reconcilliation was her biggest struggle.

My question to you, which I would assume is no form your post, is do you and your husband talk about what he confesses? I know that confession is private but my wife and I share everything and we also talk about confession, what we need to confess, what advice the Priest gave us etc…

I can also tell you that failures in regards to NFP are a big confession and struggle for us. We are trying and getting better but sometimes fail.

There is no way for me to know what your Priest(s) are like in the confessional but ours have been fantastic and encouraging.

At first my wife was like, how did you tell Him THAT? I would be like well I just said it and he reacted as I believed he should… acting as Christ’s representative on Earth.

After some initial struggle and anxiety we have both found this Sacrament to be one of the most powerful that Christ provided for us through His Church. I know the number of Catholic’s who go on a regular basis are decreasing and it’s difficult to make the time, but we both find it very rewarding and truly… freeing.

Talk to your husband about confession and your fears, or if you can’t get him to, make an appt with your Priest or one of your Priests (if you have more than one at your Parish). There is also some great articles in “Word Among Us” this month (a month Publication that some Parish’s provide to members).

Finally, ask God about it. Ask the Blessed Virgin to pray for you as well.

God knows we aren’t perfect, He knows we live in this world and he knows somethings are going to be very difficult for us. He will always forgive us when we fail, all we need to do is to ask. He also gave us the Sacrament of Reconcilliation so that we could be 100% sure our grave matters are forgiven, so that we, like those we read about in the New Testament could HEAR the Word’s of Christ saying that we are Forgiven.

God Bless and you are in my Prayers!

Joe


#4

Peace be with you! I understand the anxiety associated with NFP… I can also say that living with guilt associated with ABC is not good for your marriage, either.

I’m sorry you husband is not able to help you in discussions here. I might suggest Christopher West’s The Good News About Sex and Marriage if you already do not have it. I always recommend that the couple read it together.

I’m not sure what you need to confess, so I won’t go there, but you need not sit in the pew at communion. You can cross your arms and go up for a blessing. I know many in our parish that do that. If your husband isn’t following the rules, either, then definately he needs to understand that.

I found that the normal confession time is high pressure and so for my confession of “the heavy stuff”, I made an appointment and talked it out and asked questions. Once I got a good basis for my confession, it went really well. Prepare, ask your questions, discuss. Then, if you feel OK, tell him you want to confess some things.

I assure you, things will get better. It may take time, though.

It took me 18 years to accept some of the teachings of the Church. She is patient. She knows it’s hard. Jesus came to save us, not condem us. My experience is that it is us who holds us back from living in Grace. TGNAS&M saved me and my marriage. It’s not a long book but it has answers.

We got to a point where our lives were really separate. We’re on our way back but it’s easier to demolish connections than to make them. So it requires patience, prayer, and His help. Seems you have a communications gap (I know we still have a big one, too) and maybe some effort to go to a marriage retreat or Retrouvaille may be in order. We are called to be as one with our spouse for the benefit of each other and the family. I understand what it is like when that is not happening.

I hope this helps you. Again, Peace!


#5

Wow, what a roller coaster! May the Holy Spirit be with you and your husband. Where to start?

What I would suggest:

  1. Make a good confession, as soon as possible!
  2. Go to Mass, receive the Eucharist, feel His presence dwelling within you!
  3. Surrender fully to God. It will set you free!
  4. Sit down with your husband and let him know how you feel, let him know that you genuinely want to work everything out.
  5. Seek counseling or retreat with your husband.
  6. Ask him to help you understand it.
  7. Go to adoration, pray the rosary, set aside some time to just talk to God.
  8. Trust in Him, I know it isn’t easy, that’s why they call it Faith.
  9. There are always people around who will help you.

#6

You have recieved good advice already, but I will add what I can.

That’s what confession is. God is acting throught the priest; the Holy Spirit has a powerful presence in the confessional. The Sacrament of Reconciliation exists specifically so that we can reconcile with God.

It has been my experience that a Catholic who doesn’t accept certain Catholic teachings simply hasn’t done enough research. Read The Good News About Sex and Marriage, as someone already suggested. I will keep you and your husband in my prayers. :signofcross:


#7

Another suggestion to read “Good News About Sex and Marriage”. I’d also suggest “The Seven Levels of Intimacy” and “Three to Get Married”.

When you mention so many tight rules - maybe someone has given you bad advice. There are really only three:

Don’t have sex outside of marriage (this also means no porn)

No Artificial Birth Control

The couple intends for the man to finish inside his wife (I used intends, because, accidents may happen).

Aside from that, if you are both comfortable and willing - anything goes between a loving husband and wife.

Maybe a retreat, like Marriage Encounter would do you both some good?

Prayers for you.


#8

Kittery,
First of all, Thank you for trusting us enough to bring your troubles here.
You are already getting some good advise but a couple of things in your post caught my eye that I will comment on.

On the “15 minute” thing. I can see this as being very difficult to accomplish, for a couple of reasons. First is how busy we are these days, and second is the difficulty keeping “Talks” to fifteen minutes.
Something that has worked for me is a journal. Both spouses can keep a journal of feelings emotions problems etc., good and bad. The spouses may read the other’s journal at any time, and should make a point of reading the other’s every so often. The rule is that anything written in the journal stays in the journal. It doesn’t come out for “Discussion” or “Argument.” The spouse may comment on it in his/her journal if they so wish.
This does not mean you don’t talk about things, but it allows each person to get things out in such a way as they can “erase” and “rewrite” things to communicate better. Plus it removes some of the “Emotional tone” that comes with verbal communication.

My husband is a cradle catholic. I’m a 4 1/2 year old convert. I haven’t been going to mass for a while now. The last time I went, I couldn’t bring myself to say a word or sing any of the responses. For some reason, I just sat there empty and blank.

This sounds symtomatic of severe depression.
If you cannot go to mass, I suggest you got o Church at other times. Sit quietly before the tabernacle and talk to Jesus. He is right there. I have recieved more help and peace from this than I can express

I haven’t received the eucharist but a handful of times over the past year because I can’t bring myself to confess the private details of my marriage bed with a priest. I feel hollow as I sit there in the pew as my husband walks up again and again to receive communion without me. I feel abandoned by him.

Please don’t feel abandoned by your husband. If he is a loving man he is praying hard for you and hoping things will improve in your life.

But I can’t bring myself to confession. For one, I feel icky and dirty afterwards when all I really want is to talk to God about what’s on my conscience. Plus, since I don’t believe that God wants us to live inside of all of these tight rules about the marital embrace, I would be going to confession for certain sexual acts with my husband that I don’t believe are wrong anyway. But if I don’t accept EVERYTHING the church teaches, well then, I’m not Catholic, am I?

There are always things that are difficult for us to understand the Church’s position on, not understanding them does not make us not catholic. Someone else mentioned that there really aren’t all that many “Rules” about the marital embrace and I agree.

I used to talk to my husband about my struggles and my discrepancies with the church. He was never very helpful- he would just get upset that I was questioning. Now we don’t talk about religion. AT ALL. He goes off to mass, to confession, doesn’t ask me anything about it or take the kids. I would honestly rather go to mass without him than with him, and I’m not sure why. Does this make any sense to anyone out there? Why do I want to seek out my faith without my husband?

Please, your feedback is needed. I am lost, angry, and confused. I don’t believe our marriage would survive if I left the CC.

I believe that you really need a good spiritual councilor to help you with your struggles and get you back to the sacraments. Also I agree with the other suggestion that a marriage encounter weekend might be a good thing.

Peace
James


#9

To follow, this is downright sad. If your husband cannot find 15 minutes to talk to his wife each day, he has his priorities way out of whack.

I’ve been a full time working mom for years, working 50+ hour weeks, driving 130 miles every day. When I get home, I talk to my husband. The only nights that we did not sit down and just unwind together was when we had to head to something at the Parish, and then we talked on the way there.

When DS was little, we still talked.

I don’t have time is a cop out. We make time for the things that are important.

Please, check into some counseling, a retreat, www.retrouvaille.org or something.


#10

Thank you everyone for your encouraging responses. I will respond in further detail tomorrow- I’m studying for my nursing final in the morning and came here for a study break.

For now, the biggest question standing out in my mind is about confession. Isn’t it mandatory to go to confession for a mortal sin? I can’t repent and share my sin with God and be forgiven according to the CC, right? I am not forgiven until I go to confession. I ask because in jwashu’s response he mentions going to confession to be 100% sure we are forgiven. I thought we weren’t forgiven at all until we go to confession.

See, I come from a non-denominational background. All my life I talked to God about my sins and found forgiveness and peace in Him. Now because of my newfound knowledge in the CC, I feel like I’ve lost my direct connection and I have to find forgiveness by proxy in the priest. I find myself wishing I could erase my newfound “knowledge” because I’m just confused now. Is this new knowledge truth, or is it burdensome man-made rules? All of this confusion is compounded by the frustrations manifested within our marriage. Being out of harmony spiritually with my spouse is very depressing. And I have struggled greatly with depression ever since my conversion.

Thank you for all of your prayers and your advice/encouragement. I will be back tomorrow.

Kittery


#11

I see you have another big thing on you - Nursing School and Finals. You do have a load don’t you.

Just to address the Confession issue a bit.
What you say about talking to God and feeling forgiveness and peace is not at all incorrect. We need to do this consatantly. The idea of going to confession is twofold.
One is the discipline. By that I mean that the examination of conscience and physical act of confessing and being absolved and performing our penance are all part of a physical action tied to our belief in God’s mercy and forgiveness.
The other is speaking with and learning from our confessor. As an example: My DW has Alzheimers. This has created times when we were unable to get to Mass. Inellectually I understood that I had probably not committed a serious sin, but emotionally I felt “sinful”. When I finally was able to get to confession, I confessed missing mass, but then asked father about the culpability. He assured me that it was OK because of teh special circumstannces.

I realize that your situation is a bit more complicated than my example, but the principle is the same. It can be difficult for us sometimes to talk to the priest about certain things, but believe me, They’ve heard it all!!!

Our Prayers are with you.

Peace
James


#12

Kittery - BTDT with the non-denom backgroud :slight_smile:

Think about this. Jesus breathed on the Apostles, He looked them square in the eye and gave them the power on earth to forgive sins. Jesus did not do that to the 5000+ who came to hear Him preach on many occasions. He gave that to the Apostles only, and He had a reason to do so.

The Catholic Church takes Jesus seriously, so, we go to those ordained directly from the Apostles - straight unbroken line.

BTW - if you ever have a chance to attend an ordination, do it, it makes that line so real.

You might also pick up a book called “Lord, Have Mercy” by Scott Hahn. It explains Confession so well.

Prayers!!

Kage


#13

Kittery,
Have you always confessed to the same priest, at your parish? You might want to go to a different parish. Some people like to go to a priest they don’t know. Also, you don’t have to give lots of details; (though sometimes, the priest might ask you some questions to get a better idea of what sin you’re talking about). My stomach gets pretty twisted up, still, but that’s just Satan trying to get me to stay away.

Time in front of the Eucharist is always a good idea, especially if you’re struggling with Church teaching about ABC. It sounds like you’re not really finished with your RCIA process!

I agree that you need more time with your husband. Get out on a date; 15 minutes isn’t nearly enough.


#14

Kittery,

Let me ditton the “Lord Have Mercy” that is a fantastic book :slight_smile:

I too came from a Protestant background, being raised Southern Baptist then becoming Presbyterian in High School with a stint as a Presbyterian Youth Director.

On of the things some have commented on in my Parish is my ability to just talk to God. While I’m sure many Catholics do not have a problem with that some do. They pray often but it’s usually a memorized prayer with little expansion of their own.

Like you I have taken my sins, some mortal, to Christ and I know they are forgiven. Just, talking to God, about what I have done or failed to do is just natural for me from how I was raised. During RCIA this was a big sticking point for me and I even have a question somewhere in the Ask an Apologize section to Fr Serpa about it I think. I knew God was working in my life to lead me home to His Church, yet I was a sinner who on some issues continued to sin but didn’t have a confessional.

The answer I found was this and this has been reinforced by my Priest and was again, oddly enough, at Confession on Sunday.

It is God, through Jesus Christ who forgives all sins. Not the Priest, not the frail human man that seems to be sitting across from us but Jesus Christ.

We believe, wheither Catholic Christians or Evangelical that God knows all, He knows our needs, our desires and most importantly our weaknesses. That is why He gave us the Sacrament of Confession.

As a Baptist who studied the Bible a LOT, I was always confused as to why certian passages were in there… especially stuff like Christ breathing on the Apostles. No one ever wanted to touch that one from a Protestant standpoint… why? because they can’t. If every word in the Bible is Christ then there is no “filler” text, there is a reason the Words are there. And that reason was to pass on Christ work on Earth, His ability to forgive sins through His Eternal Sacrafice.

As I said before, when we go into the Confessional we see a man, a great man our Parish Priest who has dedicated his like to Jesus Christ… but still a man. What we have to realize and what both the Bible and Tradition tells us is that Jesus provided for us a way to experience, with our senses, Him saying “Your are forgiven.” Why? because He knows more than we do, He knows we need that, wheither we do or not.

When the Priest is in the confessional He is acting in the Person of Christ, as a conduit, when he hears the words, Christ hears then, when he says the words of absolution, Christ is saying them through him.

Psychologically this is a powerful thing for us as human beings, to HEAR those words of forgivness. When I was still a Protestant I had faith, I believed with all my heart that God had forgiven me of whatever sin I confessed to him but my ears didn’t hear.

At the same time, from a Psychological standpoint, there is something to be said about having to verbalize our sins because it makes them more real to us. For me personally this has helped me get past some “habit sins” as I would call them, some of which the Church (and I now) consider mortal but some Protestants do not. I would make excuses to myself (or “justalie” as my friends and I call it) that it “wasn’t that bad.” And in some ways it wasn’t but I believe it was often a wall between myself and God. Verbalizing that to my Priest(s) has helped me get out of that habit. So much in fact that my best friend, still an Evangelical, is starting to actually see the benefit of the Confessional from that perspective.

Finally let me get back to Forgivness. Again, all Forgivness comes from God. When we sin, we should ALWAYS seek absolution from Him first, if we are sincere then that sin is forgiven. However mortal sins effect more than just us, just our soul, they effect our Community and our Church. Thus the Church teaches that for those sins, we must go to Confession for full forgivnees (as I would put it). I say full because (and some may disagree but I believe my Priests would not) if we sincerely confess them to Christ, with the intent to go to Confession when possible, then they will not keep us from Salvation.

Yet the problem arises in how sincere are / were we? and we still have the community part of the sin, right? Thus the confessional is our assurance of that pardon (both aspects) so that we can throw that sin away and never think about it again, just as God has done so that we can focus not one what we have done but rather how we can Love and Serve Him and how we can grow in Grace and in our Walk.

I hope this helps, feel free to PM if you want to discuss further sometime.

In Christ,
Joe


#15

I totally agree! If dh didn’t talk to me every day I would feel hollow and despondant as well!

OP, are you sure you are really having “spiritual” issues here? Being married to someone who has to first off promise 15 minutes of talk time a day, and then can’t even follow though on it, sounds almost negligent, especially if you are like me and need lots of conversation and affection!

Although the book is secular, “His Needs, Her Needs” offers a chapter by chapter description of common emotional needs in a marriage and offers ways to meet them. It might provide some tools for you.

Oh my, I just can’t imagine not getting even 15 minutes of “talk time” a day! Do you guys ever spend time together? Eat together? Sleep in the same house/room? Drive in the car together? Does he give you the cold shoulder? :eek:


#16

To follow up on Haskilee’s post…

We rarely sleep in the same room together. That’s one of the issues I’ve brought here in the past. Obviously since I just got done with a pregnancy “scare”, we do occasionally sleep in the same bed:o But, we don’t spend time talking to each other about what’s underneath all of the day to day stuff. We talk about schedules, and finances from time to time. We talk about the kids, and my plans after school is over. But emotionally in this relationship, I do feel neglected.

What do I do about that? He told me during my Christmas break this last year that he loves me and cares about me, but he’s not in love with me anymore. He denies now that he ever said that to me, but he did.:shrug: Now, I wouldn’t say he gives me the cold shoulder but I definitely sense a platonic quality in most of our interactions. I closed off a lot from him shortly after we got married because of some major disappointments during the honeymoon and the first few months of our marriage. Then last year I found out he’d been sneaking porn on the internet for over a year. As far as I can tell, he has completely stopped that. But I never felt like he apologized to ME about it. He was sorry that he did it, but didn’t recognize what it had done to me in terms of confidence and trust. We really have so many reasons why we should be spending more than 15 minutes a day talking to each other.
Spiritually, I long for more closeness with God. Thank you to jwashu for your beautiful words on confession. That was very helpful, very supportive, and so encouraging that I’m looking forward to an opportunity to go to confession!:getholy: I certainly can agree that once I’ve made a good confession, hearing the words “I absolve you from your sins” has often made me cry because I do believe it is Christ saying that to me. The concrete-ness of that physical action and the confidence that comes from that beats out me telling God I’m sorry and hoping that He took note of it. I remember as a teenager, asking God for forgiveness numerous times for the same sin, because I never felt sure that he believed I was sorry- I felt like I could not convey my sincerity. The confessional has wiped that doubt away for me many times now.

Still, what hangs over my head is confessing any occasions that my DH and I engage in oral sex during the fertile times, to be very up front. I don’t believe that it is wrong. Yet I know the Church says it’s wrong and so I should confess it. But, I don’t know if it’s possible to confess something that is not on my conscience just because I know I’m supposed to. Plus, I know that I don’t intend on excluding that act and I know that we will most likely engage in it again. What does that mean?


#17

Kittery,
I hope your exams went well! When will you know? Nursing is a great way to help others. So much health care now depends on nurses. A good one makes a world of difference when on is sick. I’m sure you are going to do well in that department!

I feel so out of whack when I’m not close to my spouse. I understand your feelings and your situation. You and your husband seem not to understand somethings about your relationship and Church teachings. It’s so confusing as compared to what society tell us, today. BTDT. You’ve heard the “don’ts” but not the “whys.” Theology of the Body explains that. It can help if you two choose to let it.


#18

I hope I might be able to address his section. My husband is a convert of 6 years also from a non-denom background. This used to bother him too. He didn’t know why it was sinful. Please know that my husband and I are called to a smaller family. We have charted and abstained off and on throughout our marriage. If you would like to meet the NFP poster child, I’m it. I have serious health problems that often lead to serious financial problems. We pray that God will allow us to have a third child. Getting to two was almost impossible.

I also highly recommend Theology of the Body. It has given me the clear answers that help my husband. So here are a few questions:

What is the meaning of our physical unity? Is it a means to an end? Is an orgasm the object of it? How is the bond a married couple share different from the mere instinctual animal drive? Is the best way to show our love for our spouse always through a sexual means? Why is sex called ‘intercourse,’ isn’t that a means of communication? What are we communicating if we want just the feeling without the commitment? If we are participating in an act that is merely for sexual enjoyment at the expense of what sex does, have we insulted the meaning of sex?

AND what if sex was even better and more unifying and more exciting if it were procreative? Would that make it worth it? What if married couples were to forgo the second and third rate oral sex and ‘dumpster diving’ inherent to pornography? What if the sex was so amazing that you couldn’t pay a couple a million dollars to go back to something lessor? What if that procreative, unitive bond could really be a glimpse of heaven? Would that be enough to make it worth the wait?

God bless you in your marriage. NFP hasn’t necessarily caused any problems in your marriage. It has, however, shined a light and rooted them out. Please feel free to PM me if you need support with NFP. If it is an NFP issue…believe me…I’ve been there, done that! :wink:


#19

Second this advice! Get to Confession ASAP. Then get to counseling with your priest or another good counselor. They are there to help us.
Prayers for you, my dear.:signofcross:


#20

Kittery,

I can’t offer much more than what others here already have, except to let you know that I, too, will be keeping you in my prayers.

You’ve probably heard this advice somewhere before, but I would really, **really **recommend attending a Retrouvaille weekend with your DH. I can’t say enough about it-- it turned my marriage around (our marriage suffered from a lot of sexual issues, including porn use and my DH’s depression). If you’d like more specific info about it, please PM me. I’m happy to answer any of your questions. It is NOT counseling and there is NO group sharing-- I never would have convinced my H to go if there had been.

blessings to your family.


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