Revisiting: Going to hell for leaving the Catholic Church (dealing with guilt 6 years later)

Hey everyone, right around this time six years ago I posted this thread topic:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=452733

At the time I didn’t think much of it. I was in college, not quite sure of my decision, and honestly was probably calling out for someone to tell me what to do. I hadn’t ever visited the forum before, so had no idea what people would say. The early responses I got were interesting, so I thanked the posters and moved on. I never used the account again.

Recently, someone in my family has died, and they were very close to the Catholic faith. This has caused me to look back through memories, and while rummaging through the old email address I used to register for this account, I stumbled across this thread. I had no idea the thread would continue on for much longer and become so popular. Probably most of the people who participated in that thread aren’t regular posters anymore (many are banned it seems), but I thought I’d revisit the topic with a new perspective, as I now have a family and am looking to establish a good foundation for our faith. I’m not quite sure if revisiting old threads is even allowed so maybe this will get deleted, who knows.

Fast forward 6 years, I’m still not a practicing Catholic. The church’s stance on certain social issues was the main driver in my departure. My family and I belong to a different church, but as I’m sure many people end up discovering, it never quite feels like home. When you’ve spent the first 18 years of your life learning about the sacraments, Catholic doctrine, and living by the somewhat strict rules that Catholics follow, joining another church can feel kind of bland. I want my children to be close to God, but it’s quite hard to encourage my children to be as close to God as I was growing up, because I don’t have the same fire my parents did.

So, plainly put, I’m in a pickle. I want my children to know God, and have a good faith. I’m left with a guilt in my gut, as I left my original faith (and if I had full knowledge of that faith I can’t go to heaven).

TL;DR - How do you act as a spiritual leader for your family, when you have a somewhat overbearing guilt of leaving your previous faith?

Greetings and welcome back to caf. You were searching then and you’re still searching. This is a good thing. What fruit has the journey born so far? What have you learned on the journey? These are not questions I need an answer to, just an offering of something to meditate on.

  1. Everyone’s journey is different.

  2. Just start from where you are at.

I’m a convert to the faith and half the time I feel like I’m just winging it as I teach my son the faith.

I’m totally jealous of my friends who live their faith more fervently than I do.

However, they grew up in the faith, had Catholic marriages and started off with the idea that their families were going to be uber-Catholic. They act very deliberately every day.

That was not my experience.

Hello Redman. I sympathise because while still being in the Catholic faith I too disagree with some of the social stances (though Pope Francis has been a real help to me). I can’t comment on what you are best doing, but I recognize the plight. One thing that helps me is remembering a saying from a much loved rabbi here in the UK - ‘we all need a spiritual home, not a spiritual prison’. Wherever you end up, don’t make it a prison :slight_smile:

Welcome back to CAF. The fact that you bring up the overbearing guilt tells me you still have unfinished business with the Catholic Church. Whatever that might be. I would try to figure out and understand what is the source of this guilt. I am wondering if this statement has something to do with it.

What are some of the social issues you are having difficulties with? Maybe someone here could help shed some light on the issues from a different perspective. It has been 6 years maybe your understanding of these issues has changed in that amount of time. Starting a family that are your priority often helps us see the world in a different light than when we were single and living our life for ourselves.

God Bless

What is full knowledge? Simply knowing what the faith teaches? Or does one have to actually then believe what the faith teaches before it can be called full knowledge? What if a Catholic has the knowledge but not the belief? Heaven is locked to them too?

The context of your struggle is interesting. You want to be a spiritual leader, or said another way an authority, for your children in religious matters. The Catholic Church says it is the authority for the Christian Faith. Should your children only submit to your authority when they agree with it? Should they only submit when they understand? The Christian Faith isn’t a philosophy but a revealed religion spread by men with authority.

As a convert I can tell you that in my experience the message I received, by paying close attention, was that religion wasn’t a serious matter. We were told basically to be nice to people. This was the most important thing. The rigors of the Catholic Faith weren’t taught. I often wondered why I should be spending any time at church if all I needed to do was be nice and if the church didn’t offer me much other then a nice message on Sunday. I’m not claiming that is all of Protestantism. But I do think it is a large part of it these days.

I have no guilt over leaving Protestantism. I gave up many traditions and left behind a good group of people including my family. But I don’t regret it at all. I don’t because I’m convinced the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Jesus. That being so nothing else, no matter how good, could replace being in the true Church. When I first started going to Mass I found it different but not unusual. I did wonder if I’d ever feel completely Catholic, but that feeling disappeared quickly. I really can’t imagine not being Catholic now.

If you don’t think the Catholic Church is the true Church then why do you feel guilty? If it isn’t the true Church then she is a giant fraud since she claims to be the one, true Church. As much as you may like aspects of the Faith you remember you should always follow your conscience. If you truly believe the Catholic Church is wrong then don’t feel guilty about leaving. But if you can’t shake the feeling of guilt maybe you should reexamine why you left.

Since you weren’t raised in the Catholic faith, perhaps you don’t understand the guilt that one can be exposed to after having it engrained into their mind from a very early age that the Catholic faith is the only valid one. So even if they have been given that knowledge yet don’t believe it, they can still fear they can not be saved if somehow what they were told turns out to be correct. Perhaps since they are not sure, they hang on if even in some small way til they no longer can at all. Yet at the same time they can’t bring themselves to practice or abide by what they don’t believe. It can be quite a struggle.

No, I can’t claim to know what it is like from that point of view. But I’ve met enough Catholics who have left the Church, and have no guilt over it, to conclude that just being raised Catholic isn’t enough to create a guilty feeling.

And I know the other side. This didn’t really happen in my family but the culture is so anti-Catholic that one considering the Catholic Church can have a feeling they are considering joining a statue worshipping pagan cult.

I feel like this conversation will maybe derail this already not very specific thread :smiley:

I’ll say this, I started to realize the church was holding me hostage on social issues. My heart and my faith were at odds. Since my faith was also my direct line to God, my relationship with God was in jeopardy.

I’ll certainly search through some threads here to see what others have to say though, so thank you.

I could talk for a long time about this. After reading the other thread, you’ll find many people have different ideas.

Some people also asked me why I’m so concerned that I’m going to hell by the standards of a religion I no longer practice. In other words, if you’re so sure you’re not making a mistake by leaving the church, then why worry?

Answer: Because I’m not sure.

Yes, thank you Sy. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have any friends in my same situation, but I’ve never heard someone else describe my experience so well.

:popcorn:

How do you become a spiritual leader…?

Well, been there done that. I had discovered the Church’s richest teachings are not taught to children, so when a person goes their own way at 18 imagine their surprise when they return with a desire to learn sometime later when they have kids and find out what they have missed. Oops, I guess I shouldn’t have left. What one will find is all the richness of creation, already hashed out over 1900 years and ready to be discovered and built upon and discussed. We miss you when you’re not home.

Well maybe you could start another thread on a more specific topic of the social issues. The only reason I brought it up is because the term “social issue” is so vague it is hard to understand where you are going with this thread.

Not quite sure how the church could be holding you hostage on anything. Now that you are a father you will start to feel, how God must feel, when your children start to pick and choose which rules of yours they must follow. Bookmark this thread and come back to it in about 10 years when your teenagers start to justify why they don’t need to follow your rules anymore. Maybe that will help you come to terms with the social issues.

Someone once said you can’t pick and choose which parts of the Catholic faith you want to abide by. Once you come to terms with the fact that Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church you need to follow her. If there is a part of her teaching that you can not come to terms with, it is up to you to keep studying until you can understand why she is teaching what you don’t agree with.

Maybe not understanding the why is the reason you are feeling the guilt.

I can agree with this to an extent, particularly right after you leave the RCC after a prolonged indoctrination as a minor (even a poor indoctrination). I don’t thinking having those feelings of “guilt” are necessarily unusual. That said the “guilt” should pass if you really feel you made the right decision in leaving the RCC. If it hasn’t passed, you might want to consider the reasons why you still feel guilty after all this time. It could be you might want to reconsider being Catholic, it might be you just haven’t necessarily found your spiritual home in your current church.

As a suggestion

start living the faith again, and learn how to explain that faith that is immeasurably valuable.

For example

learn how to explain the mass, and the deadly consequences to the soul for deliberately missing mass, by showing that scripturally

Hebrews 10:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27* but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28* A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29* How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?

Note: By deliberately failing to meet on Sunday (the Day) and celebrating the Eucharist

[FONT=&quot]scripture says that
[/FONT]
[LIST]
*]is a mortal sin . Why a mortal sin? Look at the consequences
*] no sacrifice for sins for THEM who deliberately fail to meet on Sunday.
*]They profane the blood of the covenant for failing to meet, They spurn the son of God and outrages the spirit of grace for not meeting , so as a result, there is punishment and a fearful prospect of judgement and a fury of fire awaits that person because they are then considered an adversary of God for deliberately not meeting for the Eucharist (not my words it’s from scripture)
[/LIST]
That’s not describing a venial sin but a mortal sin

WHY is Hebrews 10:23… describing the Eucharist and missing (mass) on Sunday?

[LIST]
*]when it says the sacrifice for sin and blood of the covenant taking place when they meet, that’s talking about the Eucharist. The summit of our faith. Matthew 26:26-28.
[LIST]
*][26] And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take and eat. This is my body. [27] And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink of this. [28] For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for (sacrificed for) manyfor remission of sins
*]Jesus theson of God said those words instituting the Eucharist. Jesus further describes the importance of the Eucharist for the soul. John 6:53 “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. Life of the soul is **grace. **THAT’s the Eucharist.
[/LIST]

[/LIST]
Therefore, the one who deliberately blows off (mass) the Eucharist on Sunday, after being given this knowledge of truth, THEN no sacrifice for sin is left for THEM, but punishment and a fearful prospect of judgement and a fury of fire awaits that person

That’s how important the Eucharist is to celebrate and receive faithfully, particularly on Sunday.

Have a listen to this as well

The Fourth Cup
By Scott Hahn

Listen Here

Guilt is something that a lot of people experience who were brought up in conservative Christian backgrounds and then leave the church they were raised in or leave Christianity altogether. As someone from a conservative Baptist background, I’ve experienced this, too. I’m much happier being in a more liberal Lutheran church (ELCA), but at times I can’t help thinking that it would have been better if I had grown up with no religion at all.

I can agree with this to an extent, particularly right after you leave the RCC after a prolonged indoctrination as a minor (even a poor indoctrination). I don’t thinking having those feelings of “guilt” are necessarily unusual. That said the “guilt” should pass if you really feel you made the right decision in leaving the RCC. If it hasn’t passed, you might want to consider the reasons why you still feel guilty after all this time. It could be you might want to reconsider being Catholic, it might be you just haven’t necessarily found your spiritual home in your current church.

Redman,
Do you want to find out the truth, or justify remaining where you are without guilt?

WRT your question: you teach your children to obey by example: you obey. Who or what are you obeying? Who or what are they obeying?

Most Protestant denominations trace their beginnings back to a certain point. So, who are Lutherans or Methodists obeying?

In your search, if you are looking for truth, you should involve your wife. It is probably better not to search for a couple of years and make a sudden announcement, right? And if you decide that someplace other than where you are is the right place, remember that she, too, is an adult who must follow her conscience.

You might want to read *Home Sweet Rome *by Scott and Kimberly Hahn, which tells each of their experiences which finished with their conversion to Catholicism. They were not always on the same page during the process…

If your main problem with the Catholic Church is “social issues,” you can certainly get help here :slight_smile: Welcome back!

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