Hi Holly –
I was exactly where you are at about 10 years ago. I am the only one of my siblings who is still Catholic (so I get a lot of opposition) and my faith felt very dry. I knew it would be a difficult thing to leave because I didn’t think my husband would ever leave, and I knew it would deeply disappoint my parents. But I wanted to have a deeper relationship with Jesus again, and to be on fire, and I didn’t feel that where I was.
So, I prayed and said “Lord, You know my heart. Please lead me where You want me to be and give me the courage I need to follow You!”
Be careful what you pray for!
Shortly after that time, we had financial struggles and then I became seriously ill. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. After much time and many doctors and specialists, I finally started getting some answers, but I still deal with chronic illness issues.
During this time, however, I would listen to our local Catholic radio station at night when I couldn’t sleep. It was amazing that the things I needed to learn, and the encouragement I needed to have were right there – in the music, in the call-in shows, in the teachings, in the gospel! So, I began reading anything and everything I could on the faith. My parents bought us a year of cable (because I was bedridden) and I began to watch EWTN (the Catholic TV network). I read a lot of Scott Hahn books (highly recommended), and I fell head-over-heels absolutely in love with Jesus and His Church!
Since that time, I have had additional ups and downs, dry spells and even what some might call “dark night of the soul” experiences. But I will never, ever leave the Church, because it’s the Bride of Christ, it’s His Church, and it’s the only place where Jesus is Truly Present – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
I make a weekly hour of adoration and go more often when I can. I look forward to Sunday – not because of who I’ll see at Church, or what activities are going on, but because a miracle occurs every Sunday on the altar when Jesus becomes present in the Bread and Wine and heaven and earth are joined together with the angels singing “Holy, Holy, Holy!!!”
When we realize what a treasure we have, then we want to become more involved (in whatever way God calls us and with whatever gifts God has given us). In doing so, the fruit of friendship follows, yet I always remember not to put my faith in people, but in God, because people will always disappoint (I’m sure I’ve disappointed others) – but Jesus will NEVER disappoint!
We also have to move beyond our “feelings” and come to a commitment – like a marriage – to Jesus and the Church. You don’t walk away just because it doesn’t FEEL like it used to, or the spark isn’t there anymore. By enduring the difficult times, the relationship with Jesus and His Church grows stronger.
I remember a couple years back when I was having a really dry spiritual time. I spoke with my priest and he asked if I was still praying every day, and I said yes. He said that Our Lord appreciates our prayers during the dry times more so than others because we are praying out of love for Him, out of faith that we don’t always feel, out of commitment and not because of how it makes us feel or that there’s any perceived benefit to us (although there always is, we just might not feel it). This has helped me greatly.
So, I would suggest reading books on the faith, watching DVD’s, watching EWTN if you get it, listen to Catholic Answers on the radio or on the internet. Once you start learning how beautiful and rich our faith and our Church is, you’ll never want to leave, no matter how you “feel.”
God bless you! I’ll say a prayer for you!