My journey.

First time poster, long time reader. I suppose it’s finally time to dip my toe in the water and see if there are sharks. (Sorry this is so long.)

I grew up a Southern Baptist in the buckle of the Bible Belt. I was very involved at my church. Sunday school, youth groups, choir, the whole enchilada. For myriad reasons, I never bought into the evangelical ideal, and I always somehow “knew” that I was called to a more sacramental, more liturgical, more ancient form of Christianity. It may have had a lot to do with my Italian Catholic step-grandfather whom I loved dearly, but it went beyond him. I became a “none” in college, and ultimately moved to New Orleans and married a nice Catholic girl. I went through RCIA in 1994, a month before the birth of my first child.

I cannot say that I, or anybody in my RCIA group of 10 or so, really fully knew what it meant to be Catholic in 1994. I knew more scripture than the volunteers teaching the classes. I had read books about the Catholic Church, talked to priests, and prayed (a lot). I loved arguing about religion (still do), but I never once doubted that this was where I wanted to be. However, I still had doubts about the legitimacy of certain church teachings and doctrines, particularly in the areas of sin and salvation (I struggled, and still do, with the concept of mortal sin and the idea that salvation, once attained, can be lost.) I chose to go with a strategy of prayerful acceptance as a precursor to belief, which I always felt would eventually come. It has in most areas, but not in all.

My life since those days has been a roller coaster ride. My faith was not initially mature enough to handle the cycle of sin and guilt that would haunt me throughout my adult life. Sin, seek forgiveness, rinse, repeat. I stuck it out, and in 2008, after not having been to confession in over a decade, I went back. Things did not get better overnight, but I finally concluded that I was on the path that God intended for me. I have faltered many times since, but my faith is stronger today than ever. I am writing a book about my life experiences and my journey, one which will probably never be read by anyone. Part memoir, part spiritual manifesto.

Now I shall get to my point, and to my question. I am not a cafeteria Catholic (at least per my understanding of what that is). But I question. I know (hope) that there are many people out there like me – people who came to the church voluntarily, who believe in Christ as the savior of the world, and in the Eucharist – but who initially struggled and still struggle with “the rules” which can make the catechism look like the U.S. Tax Code. We are edgier, more cynical, and know what a firm grip sin can have on a person. We detest moralizing and we do not sit in judgment of others. But we are called to be Catholic, and Catholic we shall be to the best of our ability. It’s a journey, not a destination, and I am in a long way from the end.

Is there room in the church for someone like me – someone who struggles with the rigorous mandates of church teaching, yet tries to follow them? Can I pay my taxes under protest? Is there room for me on this forum?

Yes, there is a place for you.

I’d like to recommend you take a different path for awhile, and I really and truly hope you take me up on this.

Drop everything and read: The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin.

Go to a Catholic Bookstore tonight if you can. Order from Amazon with overnight shipping if you must.

Promise you will do it.

Well, they put up with a gaggle of prickly Lutherans, some stubborn Reformed, a Muslim or two (and a few motley Anglicans). So there is plenty of room in the pew for you.

What a great heart you have - thanks for sharing your story. I admire your attitude of humble obedience in the face of doubt.

Of course there is room for you!~ Welcome to the forums
Mary.

Welcome Home, cafeteria Catholics, I know a few, the ability of the human mind to rationalize just about anything is astonishing. What a tangled web we weave.

You are now a practicing Catholic with no denial. :amen:

Thank y’all for the nice words.

I’m sure I will say something offensive soon enough. Self restraint has not always been one of my strengths.

Lutherans come from a tradition of robust hyperbole - we can handle it.

Luther Insult Generator

A little humor makes the painful realizations go down easier. At least that is what I tell myself.

You’ll be fine, playing an active role in your own salvation isn’t a fault, there’s nothing wrong with questioning anything you don’t understand. There’s 2000 years of genius in the Church and its not expected everyone understands everything. School is never out, nevertheless the right answer might not be the answer we want to hear, in which case there’s a good amount of thinking through the response that also may be required.

LongCrawlHome, welcome to CAF - you’ve found a good place for your faith formation among such good Catholics here that put up with people such as me.

The Lutheran in me would slap you and say “OF COURSE! You’re going to have doubts, as the old-Adam in you refuses to die.”

May you continue on your faith journey - may you embrace the Gospel as proclaimed by the Catholic church and receive the Sacraments from her given in loving-kindness.

Welcome, there is always plenty of room at the table. Just because were Catholic doesn’t mean were perfect. We all have are struggles, well at least this sinner does.

Have fun on CAF

jesus g

I am not a cafeteria Catholic (at least per my understanding of what that is).

This reminds me of a conversation last night with a few other Catholics over a friends home while watching the NFL game. We were discussing mortal sin and confession thus the Eucharist. I notice when these conversations become emotionally confrontational and delicate, the idea that, “I don’t like to discuss Religion and Politics at social gatherings” is often invoked as if its the 11th commandment and has canonical status. It may indeed extend to being polite and charitable, but thats about it.

My faith was not initially mature enough to handle the cycle of sin and guilt that would haunt me throughout my adult life. Sin, seek forgiveness, rinse, repeat. I stuck it out, and in 2008, after not having been to confession in over a decade, I went back.

Self honesty, and in and out of the Church is the continued path, contemplation and prayer and a continued search, research and discussion. The key to the door of denial is only provided by Jesus Christ.

Welcome to the Catholic church and to CAF.
I converted over 6 years ago. I have really learned a lot here on CAF. It was a little overwhelming at first. There is a lot to grasp.
I don’t know how long ago you joined the Catholic church, but be patient with yourself and enjoy the Advent season. Enjoy your journey!
:slight_smile:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.