To Leave or Not to Leave


#1

Hi,

I'm not looking for a fight here, or a mean-spirited debate. I'm just between a rock and a hard place and really struggling.

To make a long story short, my husband and I are life-long Catholics, were married in The Church and have three baptized kids. We are both 30. We send our oldest to a Catholic school. We attend Mass regularly.

Lately, though, my husband and I have had a lot of trouble with a few doctrines of The Church, and the truth is that neither of us can honestly say we believe everything The Church teaches. We've prayed, spoken with our deacon, and spent a lot of time in conversation about our differences with The Church. It has been very hard for us, since we don't know anything but being Catholic.

At this point, we need to make a decision - do we respectfully leave The Church because we cannot, in good conscience, abide by a couple of guidelines - or do we stay and know that we are "sinning" in the eyes of The Church? I don't feel comfortable calling myself a Catholic if I am not on board with the way The Church asks us to live, and on the other hand, it would break my heart to leave. The Church is not only our religion - it's a huge part of our family culture and our social life.

What do you think we should do? I can't imagine joining another faith, but it does seem like some of the more conservative Protestant denominations are more in-line with what we truly, in our hearts, believe is right. I would desperately miss The Mass and the tradition of our faith, as well as the devotion to Our Lady. But also, we do NOT want to be hypocrites. Our hearts are heavy.

Thanks for your time,
Katharine


#2

Praying with a prayer from today's Liturgy of the Hours
for the intention that you do not leave the Catholic Church
and that you do not sin:

(please pray in turn for me)

Lord, by your grace we are made one in mind and heart.
Give us a love for what you command
and a longing for what you promise,
so that, amid this world’s changes,
our hearts may be set on the world of lasting joy.
[We make our prayer] through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
Amen.

May the Lord bless us and keep us from all harm; and may he lead us to eternal life.
AMEN

:gopray:

Above prayer taken from the Universalis website:

universalis.com/-400/vespers.htm


#3

I have struggled with issues involving confession, contraception and the like.
And though I felt I had many valid points as to why I was right and the Church is wrong,
time and the wisdom that accompanies it has shown me that the Church was correct and that I was the one who lacked the trust I should have had in Her Wisdom.

I will give you one honest example... I thought that I could never handle more than two children, so we went ahead and had a sterilization proceedure. I can tell you that now that my 2 children are grown and out of the house, we both deeply regret not being open to more children. It's lonely to be this young and childless already
Stay with the Church, I know it can be a struggle with your conscience at times especially for a young family. Do the best that you can do. You may not agree with everything but that's OK. Eventually,you may. And I learned that even when I disagreed, I was eitherthat I was not fully understanding something or I was just not trusting enough.

God bless.


#4

Do you feel comfortable telling us what specifically you are not agreeing with? My gut tells me you and your husband are having trouble with the issue of contraception (I could be totally off base, and if so, I apologize). I feel that, if you truly in your heart wanted to leave the faith, you wouldnt have posted anything on here about it. This certainly isn't the place to turn to if you need encouragement to leave the Church. :)
Pray very hard about this. I'm sure you have already. I'll pray for you as well. Give this decision some time. My sister went through a similar thing. She went to a Methodist church for about a year before she missed the Mass.

We're pulling for you and we're rooting for The Church. Stay strong and keep you heart and ears open for the Lord to lead you.


#5

We do not know, nor should we, what your objections are to Church teaching. These are best discussed with (1) a Pastor or parish priest or (2), a Catholic counsellor who is up on Church teaching. Unless he has a specific degree in counselling, your deacon is not qualified to counsel you.

Please ask your Pastor, or Marriage Tribunal at the Diocesan office if you have a Catholic counsellor available.

We will pray for you and your husband to the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.


#6

I absolutely agree with the PP.

I come from a Methodist background, but really, that counts for nothing since I can't tell you a DARN thing the Methodists believe.

When I found the church, I had "issues" with doctrines, too. Capital punishment, abortion, right to die, immigration, marriage and priests...

The more I live and learn, the more I realize that the Church DOES have the fullness. There are some things that we truly cannot understand until we live it, and thank God we have the church to lead us...


#7

I went through similar issues, only in reverse. When I was still an evangelical protestant, there were things I had trouble accepting about Catholicism. I felt the Spirit was calling me into the Church, but there were doctrines I just could not bring myself to accept at first. Our priest told me that there is a huge difference between obstinate refusal to believe and searching for the truth. You say you have prayed about it. I would continue to pray and allow God to lead you. As long as you are open to God's leading I wouldn't call you a hypocrite. I'm confident He will give you the insight to trust the Church that Christ founded.


#8

How would you leave Jesus Christ in the Eucharist? It's not the Church you would walk away from, it's Jesus...

I have struggled with leaving, because I don't understand why the leadership of the Church isn't doing more to end legalized abortion. But where would I go?? How could I ever leave and never receive the sacraments again?

I am Catholic all the way through. I just am. If there's a problem with the Church, then I am part of it. And I have the responsibility to stay and try to affect a change. But if your problem is with the tenets that aren't going to change...more difficult.

For me, I accept the teachings, 100%. That's not even an issue. When I break God's rules, I sin and I hurt myself and my relationship with Jesus.

I'll put your family in my prayers.


#9

Talk to your priest about your issues. I really dislike seeing people choose between putting God first and making poor choices that may affect their salvation. You have to weigh your decision carefully. I would hate to put my wife's soul in jeopardy over something of a secular or hedonistic nature. Ask yourself, " Are we going to put God first in our lives or are we going to be cafeteria Catholics and pretend to be something we are not and only put on a show?" Your Call! I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you on your path.


#10

I've recently returned to the Church after an absence of over 20 years. I didn't agree with anything the Church taught regarding sexuality, least of all that the unmarried should remain chaste. That 20+ years of me believing that I was the one in charge of my life may have cost my children's souls. They're all adults, now, two of them with their own children, the children unbaptized and every one of them unchurched. Had I stayed with the Church (I was a single mom) I'm sure none of them would be on the outside, spiritually. That one is on me. I mourn the birthright I deprived them of, and I pray daily that they return to God.

I didn't realize until I'd been back awhile and was preparing for my big Confession, that I was guilty of the sin of Pride. All my unwillingness to "follow the rules" stemmed from Pride. I'm NOT in charge of my life; no one is. The only difference between (most) Christians and the rest of the world is Christians know they aren't in charge. And they know Who is.

Please, don't leave the Church. Think of your children and remember that there is NO sin you could possibly commit that God won't forgive. The way to healing is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, avail yourself of it. It makes a difference.

Put your concerns into Jesus' hands. He wants them.

Take care.


#11

Thanks everyone for your input so far. I definitely don't want to leave The Church - but I don't want to be what one poster called a "cafeteria Catholic" either. I feel I owe the Church the respect of leaving if I cannot in good conscience follow all their doctrines.

I guess right now I am having a crisis of faith - do I make choices that I think are best for my family, or do I follow Church rules and deal with the fallout?


#12

[quote="KatharineJPeter, post:1, topic:241327"]
Hi,

I'm not looking for a fight here, or a mean-spirited debate. I'm just between a rock and a hard place and really struggling.

To make a long story short, my husband and I are life-long Catholics, were married in The Church and have three baptized kids. We are both 30. We send our oldest to a Catholic school. We attend Mass regularly.

Lately, though, my husband and I have had a lot of trouble with a few doctrines of The Church, and the truth is that neither of us can honestly say we believe everything The Church teaches. We've prayed, spoken with our deacon, and spent a lot of time in conversation about our differences with The Church. It has been very hard for us, since we don't know anything but being Catholic.

At this point, we need to make a decision - do we respectfully leave The Church because we cannot, in good conscience, abide by a couple of guidelines - or do we stay and know that we are "sinning" in the eyes of The Church? I don't feel comfortable calling myself a Catholic if I am not on board with the way The Church asks us to live, and on the other hand, it would break my heart to leave. The Church is not only our religion - it's a huge part of our family culture and our social life.

What do you think we should do? I can't imagine joining another faith, but it does seem like some of the more conservative Protestant denominations are more in-line with what we truly, in our hearts, believe is right. I would desperately miss The Mass and the tradition of our faith, as well as the devotion to Our Lady. But also, we do NOT want to be hypocrites. Our hearts are heavy.

Thanks for your time,
Katharine

[/quote]

You work to bring yourselves into conformity with the Truth. There is only one Truth-- as we heard last Sunday. Christ is the Way, Truth, and Life. We are only fooling ourselves if we believe that we know better and can just leave and sin with impunity. And, the Church doesn't just have "guidelines." On faith and morals she proclaims the Truth of Christ.

Christ founded the Church to be the beacon of truth and to light the way to heaven. Yes, ultimately everyone makes the choice to embrace the Truth or not. It's not easy, but it is what Christ asks of us.


#13

[quote="KatharineJPeter, post:11, topic:241327"]
do I make choices that I think are best for my family, or do I follow Church rules and deal with the fallout?

[/quote]

The Truth is always what is best for your family. Christ's truth and his Church cannot be at odd with what is good and what is holy.

I know you are having a crisis of faith, do you have a trusted priest you can talk to? Someone who can help explain the Church's teaching and help you understand it and embrace it?


#14

For me, when I've had struggles, one thing I remember is that somewhere there has to be truth. God is all about truth, and He would lead us to truth.

Truth is truth, it is not beliefs. The areas where you disagree, you could be wrong. The Church could have the truth.

I look at some of the truly great minds in the Church, I look at 2000 years of theology, and I wonder why I would think I am right and they are wrong? (I'm assuming this is actually doctrinal issues you are having trouble with.)

If you live the Church teachings and don't try to convert others to where you differ, you would not be a cafeteria Catholic. If you continue to try to learn and understand, that is not being a Cafeteria Catholic.

I am troubled by your statement about doing what is best for your family vs following the Church. As 1ke said, truth is what is best. But truth can be difficult to live.

I am so glad you have been talking to your deacon. There may be others (your priest, another priest) who can shed light on your differences in a way the deacon can't.

I wish you the best.


#15

[quote="1ke, post:13, topic:241327"]
The Truth is always what is best for your family. Christ's truth and his Church cannot be at odd with what is good and what is holy.

I know you are having a crisis of faith, do you have a trusted priest you can talk to? Someone who can help explain the Church's teaching and help you understand it and embrace it?

[/quote]

If that's true, then I guess maybe we just don't have it in us to be good and holy. I think God wants us to enjoy our lives on Earth, and yet following The Church's teachings is really harming my marriage and causing a lot of stress and sadness in our lives. I guess I have a hard time imagining that The Catholic Church is the only path to God, even though I do REALLY love The Church in so many ways. Can everyone else in the world have it so wrong? Do I really need to suffer and sacrifice my family like this in order to "make it?"

Anyway, yes, birth control is one of our issues (and it's not just that we "don't want" more kids - not at all - the issue is very medical and emotional.) However, there are others.

No, I don't have a priest I can talk to. Our priest is not really available for meeting with parishioners to discuss personal issues. I've actually never even met him one-on-one - in 4 years! Our only option for counsel is a deacon or a support ministry of volunteers. Our deacon has counseled us, regarding birth control, that each family needs to decide for themselves what is going to bring the most peace and unity to their family - because the most important thing is that parents not be divided, hurt or resentful of each other. He said that the worst thing we could do is let this become a "spot of decay" that will "rot away our marriage from the inside out" and that ultimately it's between us and God what we decide to do. Even I know that's not exactly the Catholic perspective.

Anyway, thanks for listening.


#16

I want to say that I appreciate your desire not to be a “hypocrit”, but I also would like to see you and your husband avoid that by fully embracing all that the Church teaches.

Since you have a devotion to Our Lady, I suggest you pray several novenas for both you and your husband.

And might I add…if you do have a devotion to Mary, it would be hypocritical for you to join any Protestant Church that condemn Marian devotion. Again, I would love to see you reconcile this problem by accepting Church teachings.

Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Remember oh most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or saught thy intercession was left unaided. Insprired by this confidence I fly unto thee, oh Virgin of Virgins, my mother. To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. Oh mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petition but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.


#17

The thing about holy, it's not about being holy, it's about growing in holiness.

The Church wouldn't say that they are the only path, but the best path, to God, because the Church would say it has the fullness of truth. Others have quite a bit of the truth, still others have less.

Birth control was one of my issues as well. In fact, it was the last issue for me in the end. But finally things changed for me. It was basically an act of God, one I don't want to go into here, but I finally understood the teaching in a very, very big way.

I feel so badly for you, because I see your struggle is sincere and difficult.


#18

Do not leave Church! No reason. Really. Everybody now and than struggle with something, and all married couple have their problems with catholic family planning. I know exactly what you mean. I do struggle too.

We are weak, and when we try to follow teachings, we see our weakness. It is great. My fertility planning issues helped me to open my heart to single moms, woman who suffer from abortion, I grew less judgemental in general. So, my weakness in God’s hands is vehicle of mercy.

Before all this problem with NFP I was so self-righteous, and was no use to suffering friends, or to Church.

Only now I can really talk and offer love and comfort when I know I am just as weak and sinful as any other person. And I’ve seen God’s providence in my weakness.

To be open, I’d love to have more children, but I do not feel able, emotionaly, physicaly and I do not know would my marriage survive with me catering new baby…

Three years after my younger kid was born I am still not pregnant. I thank to Lord! Both times I was pregnant it took 1 month for me to stay pregnant. So God is obviously taking care of me more than I can imagine.


#19

Dear Katherine.

Do you believe that condoms and /or pills would make your marriage more happy?

I believe in my heart that contraception degrades the marriage act. I am not married but I hope one day to be, and I feel safe within the Church, and wish to stand firm on the belief, even if I know its not the easy way to live. The church is against utilitarianism in the sexual area, and I am so happy about that.

I have had problems with chastity in the past. Had sexual physical contact without the sincere intention of giving the full gift of my self to the other and be open to having children with him. Those actions were momentarily pleasurable, but could in no way satisfy me as a psychological, spiritual, and ethical person. I felt like we were both kidding each other and we knew it. The acts were sterile and void of life.
And the guilt I felt… oh dear I often thought it would be easier to leave the Lord Jesus with his demands for perfection. Can’t you see our weakness, Lord? The Lord says He died that there would always be enough grace to make you new whenever you confess your sins.

If you, with all your knowledge and conscience, think that God wishes to give you the right to have sex whenever you want to without the procreative aspect, then indeed you do think the church has been led astray and it will be easy to start questioning many more things, because lets face it, if the church is wrong about one thing, she is likely wrong about thousands.

I wont tell you not to try out another church. I am a convert to the Catholic church, and after my conversion I felt very drawn to evangelical Christianity, … but before I left I realised that they have their own problems in those churches… being there might be more fun, but you have to ask for the truth and seek it. What I say is… you might leave, but I think you will come back. Jesus gave the key to His apostles. Sola Scriptura is so clearly not what He intended… also its sad if you have children to give them the example of leaving the church when it becomes difficult and then later coming back.

I also wish to tell you I have grown up in a protestant culture where all people contracept. Yet a huge amount of couples get unwanted pregnant every year… One of the most aborted groups in my country is the 4th child in a marriage. Sad right? Quite many contracepting people have surprise-children… So if you don’t want to get pregnant, there really is only one totally safe way to avoid.

However, all you can do is pray, ask, educate yourself why the Church teaches what she does… and if you then truly, and with unselfish motives, think she is in error, then you can leave.


#20

[quote="KatharineJPeter, post:1, topic:241327"]
Hi,

I'm not looking for a fight here, or a mean-spirited debate. I'm just between a rock and a hard place and really struggling.

To make a long story short, my husband and I are life-long Catholics, were married in The Church and have three baptized kids. We are both 30. We send our oldest to a Catholic school. We attend Mass regularly.

Lately, though, my husband and I have had a lot of trouble with a few doctrines of The Church, and the truth is that neither of us can honestly say we believe everything The Church teaches. We've prayed, spoken with our deacon, and spent a lot of time in conversation about our differences with The Church. It has been very hard for us, since we don't know anything but being Catholic.

At this point, we need to make a decision - do we respectfully leave The Church because we cannot, in good conscience, abide by a couple of guidelines - or do we stay and know that we are "sinning" in the eyes of The Church? I don't feel comfortable calling myself a Catholic if I am not on board with the way The Church asks us to live, and on the other hand, it would break my heart to leave. The Church is not only our religion - it's a huge part of our family culture and our social life.

What do you think we should do? I can't imagine joining another faith, but it does seem like some of the more conservative Protestant denominations are more in-line with what we truly, in our hearts, believe is right. I would desperately miss The Mass and the tradition of our faith, as well as the devotion to Our Lady. But also, we do NOT want to be hypocrites. Our hearts are heavy.

Thanks for your time,
Katharine

[/quote]

Exactly the same place I am finding myself in. I sympathize. I am NOT returning to Catholic worship, when I return from Iraq. I will however practice the more solitary aspects, such as the Rosary and the prayers of the Church. You really cannot join another faith. If you believe in the real presence, the marian dogmas, prayers for the dead, the trinity, etc. etc. You cannot join with the protestants either. You might attend, but you will never be able to partake, because the differences are so wide. I will be attending on sundays, with my fiancee,(who is protestant) simply for a show of unity for her son. my heart is not in her church though, and she realizes this. Its definitely for show on my part. My worship will be solitary, Probably not the best way to go, but I for one, see no alternative. Especially with all the mean spirited people who think they are better than every body else in the Church. Im too old for that garbage. And too tired. :(


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