Thinking of becoming Catholic but conflicted

Hi everyone,

I am a 26-year-old who was raised nominally Catholic. I did make my sacraments but it was pretty half-hearted and my parents rarely took me to church. They don’t go at all anymore.

In college I looked into various religions and sects of Christianity. I attended a nondenominational church for a couple of years, and there I really grew in my relationship with Christ. I found really outstanding fellowship, passionate worship and that was a really healthy, positive time in my life.

Since college I moved away and lost that group of fellow worshipers and have been thinking, now that I am engaged to another “raised a little bit Catholic nothing” that maybe we need to evaluate where we stand on religion and how we want to raise our family. We have very similar values and goals and both agree that Christianity is what we want to follow - it’s just about finding a church.

Both of us are very skeptical about the Catholic church. I do not want to offend people so if you will be offended by my feelings about the Church then stop reading! Okay if you are still with me here are my concerns…
-I don’t agree that you HAVE to confess to a priest. That seems silly and why would God, who is the be all end all, make it that way? I know there are some loose references in the Bible that support the Catholic concept of confession, but I am not convinced that it is mandatory. I think there is value in confessing a sin to another person for means of accountability, but I don’t think confessing to a priest is the only way God can forgive. Seems ridiculous.

-I don’t agree that missing church services is a sin. I think it’s a good idea to be part of a faith community and to participate, but I don’t think that deciding to spend a day hiking in awe of God’s creation is going to send you to Hell. I am turned off by the Catholic church’s insistence that you don’t have a choice over whether or not you attend Mass on a given Sunday. I think that “obligation” should not be part of our relationship with God. That’s not how loved ones treat each other.

  • I don’t agree that contraception is wrong. Sorry, I just don’t. I’ve read humane vitae and “The good news about sex and marriage” and it really rings false to me. Very straw-graspy and smells STRONGLY of an “agenda.” I think if a married couple decides that two kids is good for them, then so be it. I agree that abortions are always wrong, but I don’t see how contraception between mature spouses is anything but a tool.

-I don’t believe in indulgences. I mean, come on. Getting to Heaven is not a game of Monopoly where you can earn “get out of jail free” cards. I am not sure there is any strong biblical proof that God grants “indulgences” anyway. They seem VERY superstitious and very much beneath what God is.

-I don’t think there is any proof that the host is changed to the actual body of Christ. I’m not saying I am totally against the idea, I’m just not sure that is for real. Seems very magical and superstitious to me. I am not sure how a grown adult is able to convince him or herself that this is a real thing.

-I am not sure one religion is the only one that is “true” and that everyone else is “wrong.”

Anyway, that’s what I am considering at this point and since my parents are not active I don’t really have anyone else to help me think this through. I want to do the right thing but a lot rings false to me and I really liked how in the nondenominational church it was JUST about getting closer to Christ and having a relationship with Him with all the other baloney stripped away. But, if someone can point out some other ideas I would thoughtfully consider them.

Thank you

Oh also, I don’t believe prayer works. I think God just lets whatever happens happen. For example, two kids get cancer and their parents both pray their hearts out for a cure. They ask everyone they know to pray for a cure. One child passes away, one lives. The one that lives they say, “It’s a miracle! Our prayers worked!” So God did not listen to the prayers for the other kid? Or God chose not to answer them? God chooses to save one baby and not the other? God answers the prayers of people praying for a Superbowl ring but not the prayers of parents in sub saharan african praying that yet another child does not starve to death?

I am not saying that prayer is not worthwhile, because I think it is healthy for people to talk to God, but I don’t think it changes outcomes or can “change God’s mind.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Catholicism is not for you. I think most Catholics, if they are honest, will admit to themselves that they doubt some of what the Church teaches. You, however, have expressed disbelief in some of the basic stuff that makes one Catholic. Nothing wrong with that if you’ve given the subject some serious thought and honestly came to that conclusion. If it really doesn’t ring true to you, then move on and find something that does.

A word of warning: Very soon someone will be here telling you that because you were baptized as a child, you are, in fact, already Catholic…whether you like it or not…and that you are subject to Canon law. And frankly, that IS what the Church teaches. My personal view, however, is that it would be foolish to affiliate yourself with a church just because it has a “Hotel California” rule.

These are some problems I see with the catholic church:

  • Supports liberal causes
  • Not friendly at mass, so nobody knows one another
  • Members are ignorant of the church doctrines but afraid of leaving or criticizing
  • Clergy is most important (father, mother…) and parishioners are the flock, sheep etc…
    So good luck but I left and thought about returning, but won’t be.

You would probably get more information if you posted a seperate thread on each of these issues. Actually, there are already multiple threads on all of these issues. You do seem to have some misconceptions about the Church’s teachings on some of these.

For instance, we don’t believe that you CAN’T be forgiven for sins without the help of a priest. However, only a priest can grant you sacramental absolution, which means that you can be assured that you are freed from those sins. It’s a very powerful sacrament and it’s definately worth it to go to reconcilliation if possible.

Also, indulgences aren’t a “get out of jail free card”. If you are not saved, indulgences aren’t going ot help you. If you are saved however, indulgences remove the effects of your personal sin from your soul, meaning you have less work to do in purgatory before you are ready for heaven.

There’s one thing you are right on. There is no “proof” for the Eucharist, other than Christ’s words in Scripture, centuries of documented miracles, and personal faith. I don’t see how any grown adult can be perfectly fine believing that God can be incarnate of a virgin and born into this world, but can’t accept the Eucharist. I don’t see how one is more plausible than the other.

Look at some Eucharistic miracles like The Miracle of Lanciano

I hear of people who have given testimony to living off the Eucharist, surviving miraculous lengths of time on nothing else substantial, and it’s just another piece of evidence I find hard to believe how anybody doctors it up.

I couldn’t agree more with this; Catholicism is not for you at this point in time. I might think sometime it will fall into place for you but now obviously is not the time.
A time to every purpose unto heaven.

Mary.

I am sure you will get many good responses to your concerns above–perhaps you should start a separate thread for each one. You might even search old threads that discuss those issues. Your objections don’t seem grounded on study or history but on feelings–I suggest much more study of the issues. I’d recommend the book–I think it’s called “The Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft. You do have some basic misunderstandings so I would also recommend that you get–or study the free online version–of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For example confession to a priest is not the “only” way God can forgive sins–it is the normative way instituted by Christ, but not the “only” way. Another example–the other churches aren’t totally wrong–they do contain elements of the truth, but shouldn’t we be looking for the complete truth? Keep studying.

Christ in the Gospels calls us to repent, to pick up our cross, follow him, and to do the will of his Father–I am not sure that’s what nondenominational churches have in mind when they talk about getting close to Christ and having a relationship with him. Lets be fair it’s not about just having a relationship with Christ that’s important because we all have that. Some of us have a good relationship, some of us have a bad relationship and some of us have a relationship somewhere in between–it is not simply having a relationship with Christ that is important but the type of relationship. If you can’t spend one hour a week at Mass doing in memory of Christ–what he commanded at the last supper–because you want to go hiking–what does that say about your relationship with Christ? You can go to the early Mass or the Saturday vigil Mass–it is not either or. Christ said, “this is my body”–if you don’t believe what he said and what the Church has always taught – what does that say about your relationship with Christ? Christ calls for a total commitment from us–not a half hearted one. Too often our objections are because of how we want to live–so we say we don’t believe xyz. We tell ourselves I am committed to God, just as long as he doesn’t tell me what to do in the bedroom or at work or with my money, or on Sunday or…

Today most people say “what do I think, how do I want to live” and they go looking for a church that conforms its believes to theirs–so that they can live how they want to live. We really should be asking ourselves how does Christ call us to live? We should seek out the answer to that question and then we should attempt to conform our lives to that. Again I recommend study.

Christ and his Church offer us the truth and a way to live that will bring true joy and happiness and peace as opposed to the false happiness the world offers–that has it’s adherents continually seeking greater and greater pleasures never finding fulfillment.

Take the time to answer the question–how does Christ want us to live?

The peace of Christ,
Mark

I’ll try and address what I can:

Sinning by missing Sunday Mass. I don’t know of any church that doesn’t expect its participants to attend services one day out of the week. Church to me is where God is. I go there each Sunday as a loving daughter visiting her Father. He has given me so much and asks so little. If this makes Him happy, so be it.

Many of our problems stem from what we want to do and not what God wants from us. This can be traced back to Adam and Eve. “You can have it all, but don’t touch that tree and eat its fruit.” Well, that worked…not. His tree, His rules.

So if you are thinking of joining any church and have it all your way then go ahead but it will not be in the Catholic Church. As Megan Kelly recently stated, Catholicism isn’t for wusses.

  1. We confess to God THROUGH the priest, because Jesus gave the power to forgive sins to His priests. “The sins you forgive are forgiven them, and the sins you retain are retained.”

  2. The Mass and the reception of Jesus in Holy Communion at Mass are the epitome of Catholic life. Therefore, to place other things before it and before our relationship with God is a sin. I mean, it is great to marvel at the wonders of God, but you must do it alongside Mass.

  3. Contraception is wrong because who ever told you that you had the right to say who lives and who dies? You don’t. God alone is the Master of life and death.

  4. All indulgences are are penances that make retribution for the temporal punishments incurred on us by our sins. This helps us to remove time from purification in Purgatory.

  5. The Holy Eucharist is truly the Body, the Blood, the Soul, and the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He said so several times: “For My Flesh is true food and My Blood is true drink” in the Bread of Life Discourses in Saint John’s Gospel.

  6. Jesus wouldn’t have come and given us a Catholic Church if He didn’t intend for us to be a part of it.

I hope this helps to clear up some of your misconceptions! May God bless you and lead you to the Truth of His Catholic Church! :slight_smile:

That may be the problem with your Church, but not with the Roman Catholic Church, as a whole. Many parishes in English-speaking countries have become this way. The fun part about being Catholic is that in most moderate-sized towns, you can shop around for a parish.

Christ is out there, go find Him.

P.S. we have to honor our clergy. They are the shepherd, and we are their flock. We must respect them.

My understanding of Catholicism is that it doesn’t matter what an individual thinks or feels, likes or does not like about various teachings and elements.

It’s about truth. Either you accept that the Church has the truth and you commit to following the teachings and expectations to the best of your ability with intent to grow spiritually, or you don’t.

A person can feel very rebellious, angry and confused about the teachings, but if they accept that beyond that, in a way they cannot fully understand the teachings of the Church are correct…then they commit to living that way trusting that in time their understanding and obedience will grow.

If you don’t believe/accept the Church has the truth, the authority and the Real Presence, then it is unlikely you would feel obligated or committed to living by it’s teachings.

Catholicism is the WHOLE deal.

Have you prayed in adoration in front of the Holy Sacrament? That often helps in a situation like this.

Op,
I think you are honest and struggling with what Church to belong to. In your list, you kinda drew some big lines in the sand on what you don’t believe or even accept about a number of key teachings of the Catholic Church. You must realize that being raised nominally, you were exposed to the Catholic Church but you were never given a foundation for why the Catholic Church teaches and the reasons why. Are you open to relooking at a number of things you listed and exploring them or is your mind really made up and that is that? Even attending a non-denomination Church, I am sure that Church doesn’t teach some of the relativism that you have fallen into such as there is not just one true religion. I think most all Protestant churches usually expect their member to attend Sunday services if not more, even if they don’t call it a sin. Most Protestant Churches do believe God answers prayer. It is one thing to claim I don’t understand this or that help me, but if you are stating “I don’t believe and that is that”, there isn’t going to be anyone here that is going to convince you otherwise unless you yourself are willing to relook at some things and be willing to change your positions.

The irony is that it is in the Catholic Church alone where this closeness and relationship with Christ that you desire is most fully achieved. The “baloney” you speak of are the trappings of the Church that Christ intended. The Catholic Church existed for 15 centuries before the word “nondenominational” was ever uttered. Look at the Church through eyes of faith, if you can. Reason alone will not help you reach the truth. Then you will begin to see how if Christianity is true, then its full truth must be found in the Catholic Faith. Why? Because it is the Biblical Church, it is the most ancient “denomination”, it is the Church that Christ founded upon Peter whom he named the Rock. And since the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles at Pentecost, He has remained with the Church and will do so forever. Trust the Holy Spirit - have faith in Christ and His Church.

When I left Mormomism and was church shopping I didn’t agree with Protestants and evangelical Christians over, once saved always saved, lack of authority, their support of the gay agenda, woman clergy, all of their “sola’s” and on and on. So I passed them up. I would say if you have that much problem with Catholicism you probably should look elsewhere. On the other hand you could take an objective look at us and let someone try to answer your objections. :hmmm:

I think when you say you are conflicted, you make a BIG understatement. I’m would like to help, but I don’t think you are sincere in your motive, There are 21,500 denominations of Christianity in this country and I’m pretty sure there is one to fit you. God bless.

Thoughts on Confession

What a beautiful gift we have in this Sacrament. The priest is Christ and through the priest our sins are forgiven making our soul pure enough to receive the Eucharist. The soul, like a dirty house, has been washed and clean all polished and ready for the company of our Lord. That is how my nun in the first grade explained it to us.

Odd that people don’t have a problem going to a psychologist or psychiatrist, lawyer or doctor and tell all. None will ever tell you you’re wrong. That is left entirely to you. But in confession you are given counsel and absolution.

It is not easy. You must prepare yourself to tell all and you must humble yourself by kneeling and telling God, through the priest, that you are a sinner and will not offend Him anymore.

Have you ever heard of Padre Pio who had the gift of knowing souls. If you forgot a sin, he was known to tell the person exactly when he committed the forgotten sin, with whom and why. How would you like that experience? It give you an idea of how powerful this Sacrament is, doesn’t it?

Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance & direction.

First, I have to say you issues with Catholicism are not unique to people with your upbringing. Furthermore, your exposure to a nice religious environment that is less structured, less organized and more independent than Catholicism would make you think less of Catholicism and see it as more legalistic and burdensome. This is understandable. The issue boils down to the biblical concept of authority a matter which many Protestant churches do not really teach or believe, or than some Calvinists, Lutherans and similar

It does not matter what you or I have an opinion on any matter that is settled. Jesus appointed the 12 apostles with St Peter as the “chief” or “first” as commonly translated, He gave them the power to “bind and loose” which is Jewish terminology for deciding matters of Law, the Pharisees claimed to have this power too, the Apostles and those who succeed them through the imposition of hands (like Acts 13:2-3, 1 Tim 4:14 etc) decide these matters as they were set aside by God for this purpose, just like Judges and priests in the Old Testament were for matters that were not always clear or explicit like in Deuteronomy 17. This is why Acts 15 is an assembly of “apostles and presbyters” and not of the average Christian–they decided theological and legal matters–in this case it was Circumcision and Jewish law. We cannot decide matters of sin and law for ourselves, independent of God’s appointed judges on this matter, there is no biblical concept of a do-it-yourself Judaism or Christianity, it was a community with leaders.

Having sex using contraceptives is not too far from homosexuality, both are a misuse of sex for strictly enjoyment that exclude the chance of children, except in the case of contraceptive it at least implicitly sees children as a burden and punishment when in the Bible people had sex and children and see the fertility generally as blessing from God. Sex’s primary purpose is procreation, having it for reasons that exclude that are no different that gluttony–you need food to survive, not for pleasure. Not to mention the commandment given to married people is to be fruitful and multiply, and we are constantly told to control our passions–this includes sex. Contraception is in no way God’s will for man.

There

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.